Some are calling it dour and dark and gloomy.But it really wasn't any of those things. Not at all.
What it was, for some people, was shocking. It jolted them. It left them a bit breathless, And it even scared a few people.
And that's precisely what it was meant to do. It was meant to jolt the establishment -- to knock some of wind out of its sails. And it was meant to scare the elites -- the Washington know-it-alls; the clubby, entrenched bureaucrats; the groupthink media yappers; the tassel-shoed lobbyists, the lifer officeholders; the special-interest peddlers; the panderers and deceivers and slippery snake-oil merchants; the whole damned bunch of 'em.
It was also meant to deliver a clarion call to the American people, particularly the forgotten ones who don't count themselves as part of any special or protected group. These are the people who were left along the shore long after liberalism's ship sailed into its make-believe world of love beads and Birkenstocks and kumbaya.
As a jolt and a prod, President Trump's Inaugural Address succeeded. It was totally on-target. It did what it supposed to do, delivering a bright, decisive populist anthem which said: It's over now. Today, "we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People" while adding that "the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
Here are some other key observations that need to be noted from this very forthright and powerful speech:
- God is once again back at the center of our national life, under the capitol dome, in the White House and in the words of our leaders. President Trump's inauguration was bookended by a record number of prayers and the new president invoked the deity, speaking of the "almighty Creator" and declaring "we are protected by God."
- Identity politics is over. The speech contained no direct mention of specific racial, ethnic or religious groups; no mention of gender; no mention of sexual orientation -- none of that. Instead, it spoke to all of us as one, unabashedly declaring: "we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag." Also missing was the coveted liberal term "diversity". The message is clear. Our nation will no longer be balkanized; groups will not be pitted against one another only to benefit the establishment and the elites.
- Unapologetic patriotism is the order of the day. Inauguration day was replete with numerous patriotic touches from President Trump's declaration that "a new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions" to his promise that "from this moment on, it's going to be America First." And all of this was reflected in the many military units and first responders that participated in the parade along with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and similar groups.
- Globalism is passé. The president made very clear that we will not take responsibility for the rest of the world and we will not engage in nation-building. He acknowledged "the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first" and added that "we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow." He's saying that we will put our own house in order and lead by example, period. This echoes the nationalistic tone of his whole campaign.
Those who found the speech dark or gloomy must not have heard some very vital, hopeful, unifying, aspirational elements. Here are a few:
"This moment is your moment: it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country."
"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."
"We are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land."
"America will start winning again, winning like never before.
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 build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work -- rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor."
"When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, 'How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.'"
"Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again."
"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."
"So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again."If these words aren't hopeful enough for you, then you are surely missing something. Indeed, you may only be hearing what you want to hear.
This was a brave, spirited, stirring address -- one that charts a bold new path for America. As befits an Inaugural Address, it avoided specifics and instead painted in broad strokes. Audaciously, it offered a pablum-free, no nonsense prescription for the nation. It cautioned that "we will face challenges. We will confront hardships," but still added that "we will get the job done."
If you were expecting to be caressed with a feel-good message and a gentle pat on the head, this was not the speech for you. The world that President Trump expects to usher in will be a world free of participation trophies, soft-touch moments, convenient excuses, free throws, mulligans and hall passes.
Finally, the speech was blessedly brief. With very few exceptions, no significant speech need be more than 16 minutes long. That's the sweet spot. And, with clear language, short sentences and memorable lines, President Trump came in right on the money: 16 minutes!