The Big Inaugural Address

Donald Trump’s first address to the American people as President of the United States did not resonate with me. There were many reasons for this. The first and most obvious reason is that while it came out of his mouth, it did so in words that did not reflect the voice of Donald Trump.

This isn’t to say that the sentiments weren’t genuine. But the expression of those sentiments seems at odds with his idiom. Metaphors of factories “scattered like tombstones” and “wind-swept plains” and “carnage” are just so incredibly out of character that I couldn’t help but wonder who wrote them. Was it Trump himself, sitting at a desk by the Mar-a-lago cloakroom in front of that mosaic wall, next to a statue of an eagle perched on a marble and bronze plinth?

I am sure that he believes that the United States has become a dumpster fire over the past eight years; that the military is depleted; that the inner cities are aflame and people feel hopeless and helpless. Trump, no doubt, believes that the medicine he brings will turn this awful disaster of a country around. I am not so confident. As he promised that the voice of the people would be heard and that the forgotten will no longer be disregarded, the web site was being rebranded. References to climate change were being removed, references to LGBT issues and other heartfelt concerns of real Americans were being swept aside.

So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again.

My personal feelings are that my voice is weaker, not stronger. It is as if the Electoral College vote somehow settled disputes between the politicians and the scientific community over climate change and pollution and whether regulations and biodiversity are important. These things are not subject to electoral math; they are questions of the study of the natural systems in which we live and breathe.

He spoke of Washington elites, but not corporate elites. Do I believe that government corruption is a good thing? Of course not, but should I believe that the best people to run the government are corporate tycoons whose meteoric rise to success has choreographed the very environment of disparity that we are seeing today? My personal concerns about conflicts of interest are being disregarded; when the President Elect mentions a $2 Billion dollar deal that he was offered at a press conference mere days before his inauguration, why does this not bode well to me? Why did he say so many times that he is not required by law to divest himself of his holdings at all? Why was the integrity of the presidency not worth it to him to divest his entire organization and retain his holdings in a blind trust? This is what was expected; this is the standard, and it wasn’t worth it to him. He appointed his biggest donors and supporters to high office – in many cases without regard to qualifications. He did this as he decried cronyism. So no, I am not confident that the era of Washington corruption has ended on this day.

There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.

The idea that God will protect us is somewhat strange to me as well. As a non-believer, I would prefer we didn’t really bring him into this. Trump has promised to be the best jobs president that God has ever created, but the blind assertion that the United States is God’s chosen nation (assuming some, specific manifestation of God) and the implication that Trump is a vehicle, also chosen by God seems to me to be a step into a new realm. Faith-based assertions can eat away at the hard work that is required to make important changes. I’ve heard with my own ears from Christians who place issues of large scale pollution, climate, poverty and even controls on capitalism in the hands of the all-mighty. These beliefs are counter-productive because they minimize the important job of the people to ascertain the root causes of problems, establish remediations, and adjust our collective actions to make things better.

In closing, he promised to make the strongest nation on earth strong again. He promised to make a nation with 6 of the 8 wealthiest people in the world wealthy again, and, again, he promised to make us great again. It’s hard to reconcile that with the events of the day. By overstating our problems, appealing to nationalism and painting a picture of an apocalyptic wreckage of a nation, the administration is set to throw the babies out with the bathwater “from mountain to mountain”. It’s not truly a promise to listen to all Americans, it never was. It’s a promise to listen to different Americans who believe different and less nuanced things about jobs vs. the environment; sabre-rattling vs. strength; science vs. religion; and crassness vs. decorum. It’s an affirmation of extreme right-wing priorities around opportunity, equality, and supply-side economics.

Donald trump is not listening to me. He is uninterested in my views and ideas. I didn’t support his campaign, and with every tweet decrying how awful and unsuccessful his detractors (enemies) are, he make it clear that my opinions are no longer relevant. My facts and experience have been voted on by the electoral college, and determined, in a free-and fair election, to be lies.

The outcome of this election is an American tragedy wrapped in appeals to jingoism. We are actually less great today than we were yesterday.

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