An analysis of President Trump’s inaugural address

Rhetoric no more. He means every word of it!

That was the thought that went through my mind in the first two minutes of Donald Trump’s speech as 45th President of the United States of America.

If there were any expectations of diplomacy, there were none.

Trump was clear. He was not one to be interested in creating history with eloquence. 

He was on a mission. And his inaugural speech would be a reaffirmation of that mission.

His tone was combative. The mood unrelenting. And the strategy divisive.

Here was a speech that couldn’t be more true to the voice of its speaker. Without doubt, this was Donald Trump speaking.

Here’s a detailed analysis of his speech.

Note: Italicized words are portions of the speech and not the full transcript.

Recognises anger

We are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. We’re transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you people.”

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Look at the early directness and emphatic intent of the speech. At about one minute and 30 seconds, he gets down to business and sets the tone for what is to come.

Trump’s unbelievable rise to become the Republican Presidential nominee and his dramatic win as President was all about the anger of what he masterfully refers to as “the forgotten men and women of our country”.

It is a reminder of why he is there – the Messiah who will deliver the forgotten people.

It’s a powerful sentiment. One that stirs loyalty for the Messiah and stokes anger for the wealthy others.

With that opening, he broke the tradition of delivering positive and unifying messages as a dignified custom of every inaugural speech.

Strokes the populist mood

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you. This is your day. This is your celebration

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

For someone who rode the rhetoric of divisiveness, it’s interesting to note the inclusiveness here.  

“This is your day” and “your celebration” are not mere indulgences of a generous leader.

He was being careful to reiterate what they already knew. The ultimate outsider had won because the forgotten people had thrown their might behind him. 

Paints a grim landscape

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Celebrations and victories are fine. But they do not evoke powerful emotions.

Stark landscapes do. “Carnage”, “ravages” “dissipated” and “ripped” invoke the grim scenario that Trump wants people to see and remember.

The intention is clear. Cement the resoluteness among the forgotten and the deprived. They must not relent now. This is the way forward if they want better times.

Reaffirms protectionism

We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. 

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.

‘America first’ was the bedrock of Trump’s campaign theme – ‘Make America Great Again’. The return to a glorious era is rooted in this vision.

We are familiar with ‘Love yourself first’, the philosophy that urges people to love oneself without guilt.

Donald Trump simply extends that philosophy to nation love.

It is an emotion that is difficult to play down or find fault with.

Teases political correctness

We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

While we didn’t doubt the partisan and protectionist talk, Trump’s attempt at positive and unifying messages rang somewhat hollow.

They were there for those yearning to hear some correctness. Crumbs to make up for the stark lack of diplomacy.

Revels in hyperbole

I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.

We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.

‘Millennium’ ‘mysteries’ ‘tomorrow’ and ‘ glorious destiny’– didn’t do much either for inspiration or for relief.

Perhaps they were there to make up for the noticeable absence of his pet phrases – ‘very, very amazing’ ‘lovely’ and ‘beautiful’.

Only, they didn’t and rather served to distract from his grim message.

Signals non-interference?

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.

After the brash opinions, one would not expect maturity in the domain of international relations from Trump. So when he talks about the right of all nations* to put their interests first and not to impose, you perk up.

*Post Note: Even if the reference was to Russia

America, the incorrigible Big Brother will let other nations be?

America will not impose its views?

That would be one of the most significant departures from Donald Trump’s expected line of talk.

Talks Tough

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.

The inaugural podium or the celebratory occasion did nothing to soften the blunt reference to ‘radical Islamic terrorism’. He gave the signal loud and clear. He didn’t shy during campaign days to call terror by its name. He wouldn’t shy now as President.

People don’t want euphemisms anymore. He wouldn’t give any.

Wraps up with a touch of the sublime

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

A nation is living only as long as it is striving.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.

Great speeches capture stirring thoughts that history will invoke and generations will reaffirm.

The desire to hear something poetic and sublime* is satiated in the last few minutes.

*Post Note: Notwithstanding that it was a Trump speech

My pick of the sublime from Donald Trump’s inaugural speech would be this – “a nation is living only as long as it is striving”.

Related: The Audacity of Hope
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