Addressing the nation for the first time as its 45th President, Donald Trump has offered a clear anti-establishment, populist vision. Echoing the central themes of his campaign, Trump has pledged that under his leadership, the power of government will no longer reside in Washington, but truly rest in the hands of the people.
Trump’s message emphasized unity and also went to great lengths to invoke a unique spirit of American pride. In his own words, Trump stressed that “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”
This visceral statement seemed to strike the same chord as what Trump described as “carnage” in multiple key facets of American life.
For Trump, the American people want great schools, safe neighborhoods, and good jobs, yet, broadly, we are faced with poverty in both urban and rural areas, persistent unemployment in manufacturing industries, which were once the bedrock of the American economy, a broken education system that doesn’t educate our children for the economy of the future, and crime that flows across our borders and permeates disadvantaged communities.
To counter this, in Trump’s view, Americans must unite.
Making no mention of partisanship, Trump’s strongest point of unity relied on his message to remove power from elite, establishment circles in Washington and allow the nation to be seemingly led by the will of the people.
Alongside these points, Trump did in fact express specific policy steps that he will prioritize in order to deliver on his campaign promises.
Trump made clear his plans to increase spending to rebuild our military, thereby making it the strongest vehicle possible for asserting American power, crack down on immigration in order to secure our borders, and making transformative infrastructure investments that will rebuild economic opportunity for the middle class.
Clearly, Trump’s presidency signals a retreat in certain ways from America’s global role, but he did in fact insist on defending old alliances while also forging new ones.
In the spirit of these alliances, Trump vowed to unite the “civilized world” to “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism,” a plan that received the loudest cheers of the day from the crowd on the National Mall.
As the reality of Donald Trump’s presidency sets in, many analysts will continue to criticize the president for being angry, hostile, or excessively populist in his vision, but above all it’s worth remembering that an angry electorate, desperate for change, elevated Trump to this position, and his inaugural address has succinctly reflected that.