"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 knowledge; and the crime and gangs and 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. [...]"For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon."One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world."
The story of Donald Trump's political trajectory is one of a series of "pivots" that were predicted but never seen.After Trump's belligerent campaign kickoff in June 2015, many observers said he'd soon pivot towards a more responsible campaign message in order to extend his appeal to more Republican constituencies. That didn't happen.After he secured the Republican Party's presidential nomination, many assumed Trump would pivot away from his primary persona and become a general-election candidate with a message that resonated nationally. That didn't happen, either.After Trump won the election, much of the country expected him to pivot from campaign mode to governing mode as he prepared for the awesome responsibilities of the American presidency. That didn't happen, either.After he actually became president this afternoon, Trump was supposed to pivot, embracing the fact that he now represents the nation and its people, and recognizing that the time for deliberate divisiveness has passed.But like every other predicted pivot, Trump had other ideas. The new president delivered a bleak, almost angry inaugural address that was effectively indistinguishable from the Republican's campaign rhetoric:
As a factual matter, the portrait of America the new president painted is largely unrecognizable, and as a political vision, the dystopian nightmare Trump presented in his infamous convention speech in July 2016 is no different from the one he described today.The "buy American and hire American" rhetoric was there, despite the fact that Trump ignores the principle himself. The "America first" motto was also there, despite its ugly history.Asked for his reaction to the address, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Trump's remarks were "a continuation" of his campaign rhetoric. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had a nearly identical reaction, saying the new president's message was "very consistent" with Trump's pre-election pitch.There will be no pivot. The Donald J. Trump we saw riding down an escalator in New York 19 months ago is the same Donald J. Trump who's on his way to the Oval Office. The nuances of his personality don't really exist. What we saw is what we have and we'll get.The result was an inaugural address intended for Trump's base -- and no one else. Those waiting for an uplifting message were left wanting. The expected olive branches were set on fire.The speech was, to be sure, deeply and unapologetically populist, which was only surprising because I thought everyone knew better by now. Sure, Trump exploited populist anger throughout his campaign, but during the transition period, the new president appointed billionaires and Washington insiders to help lead his administration, started selling access to megadonors, and moved forward with an agenda built on tax cuts for the wealthy elite.Isn't it a little late for faux-populism about "giving [power] back to you, the American people"? Are there still people who heard this address and believed it?