Wednesday, February 1, 2017

For Trump supporters inaugural speech will not be dark at all

(January 20) Several critics describe Trump's inaugural speech as having "dark tones". However these dark tones describe the past and present. Most of the speech is glowing about the future claiming that the people now have power and will make America great again.

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The Huffington Post reports the full speech available at many sites. The Post talks of the speech striking a dark tone, speaking about "American carnage" in the past. The speech says just before using the term "carnage":
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 knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.The description coheres with themes stressed in his stump speeches. Most of the speech is replete with rhetoric about the bright future of America. After all, one of his slogans is to make America great again, hardly a dark picture.
Jonathan Freedland in an article in the Guardian describes the speech as divisive, ungracious, and unrepentant. He claims as well: "There was no gracious nod to his defeated opponent, Hillary Clinton, no hand outstretched to those who didn’t vote for him." Yet Trump did recognize Clinton at a luncheon as shown on the appended video. He said:"I was honored, very, very honored when I heard that President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton were coming today." Trump said this during the inaugural luncheon after the ceremony in which he was sworn-in as the next U.S. president. He also said that he had a lot of respect for both Hillary and Bill. Of course, this conflicts with much that he said during the campaign but that is hardly surprising and other politicians talk the same way when the occasion appears to demand it. It is part of the healing process that Trump is supposed to have not engaged in. Clinton showed considerable courage in coming to the inauguration. She showed she was at least recognizing Trump's win and he responded by praising her for it.
One wonders if Freeland read the complete speech. Right near the first Trump says: "Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent." Trump is reaching out to praise some at least who did not vote for him and trying to smooth relations during the handover of power. Actually, Obama has been trying to make things difficult for Trump by sanctioning more Russians and moving troops to eastern Europe among other things.
Trump's theme all along has been anti-establishment. It is not surprising that he rails against that establishment and blames it for America's ills. He is not about to initiate a healing process and ask the establishment to join him. He is asking Americans, whom he claims now have the power rather than Washington DC, to join him in producing a bright future: "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." Why would he want to heal the wounds he has caused the establishment? His support comes from people who think that the system is rigged and has been working in the interest of a few who are powerful rather than the interests of the ordinary citizen. Trump says: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.
No doubt Freeland would like to see what usually happens between two parties both of which take turns ruling but do nothing to change the basic power of the establishment. Trump ran supposedly against that very system. It makes sense for him to stress that in his speech. However, he always uses "we" and "Americans" and in effect asks all citizens to work with him.
Trump waxes eloquent about the future: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.Of course, Trump will carry all this out through an administration that contains many from Wall Street, several generals, and long-time Republican officials who decided it was time to get aboard the good ship Trump. They are mostly part of a conservative establishment with no liberals. Trump is replenishing the Washington Swamp with his own creatures.
Freeland worries that Trump talks against free trade treaties and espouses protectionism. However, for Trump what Freeland sees ,together with many US liberals, as positive, globalization and free trade, Trump sees as serving the interests of the establishment and not taking into consideration how it can negatively effect ordinary citizen. In effect he is using some of the same arguments that Freeland notes have been associated with what he calls the far left. Freeland simply takes as truth the standard liberal narrative that such a stance is reactionary and will result in reduced economic growth, not positive growth as Trump suggests. Whether or not this is true growing inequality is accompanying globalization in many countries and it is not unreasonable that many people should reject it and see Trump's ideas positively. Perhaps many U.S. liberals need to reconsider their support for globalization as it has been happening.
Freeland is likely to provide ammunition for Trump supporters' criticism of the press. He says:The work of opposition starts now – and here’s how it might work. At the front of the queue, as it were, are the press. There’s no doubt Trump sees it that way. With Clinton out of the way, the media has become his enemy of choice. The media’s very existence seems to infuriate him. Perhaps because it’s now the only centre of power he doesn’t control.The role of the press is not to report events as objectively as it can but to serve as an opposition to Trump. Trump is apparently already in control of every center of power but the press. Trump holds that the press is out to get him not report the news and Freeland's response is to admit in fact he is correct. It remains to be seen how much control Trump has even of Congress. Many Republicans disagree with his ideas even more than Democrats do on issues such as free trade, and expensive infrastructure projects. It remains to be seen how much control over his own cabinet he will have as many have quite different views from him. Trump seems to enjoy having a team who are bound to battle with each other. Trump should find the presidency quite enjoyable.


1 comment:

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