Trump’s inaugural speech was a speech for the ages: The Dark Ages. If you couldn’t bear to watch it, you can gag your way through the full transcript here. I watched and took notes. And what struck me was his repeated use of the language of demagoguery.
It was an angry, sabre-rattling, self-congratulatory and alarmingly nationalistic speech that offered a very dark view of America today. It was a speech that could have been delivered in 1933 Germany, when that country was in terrible shape after the devastation of World War I and at the onset of a worldwide economic Depression. That view, quite simply, does not jibe with the America of 2017, where unemployment is down, and the economy and the stock market are up. But Trump always plays to anger and resentment, via the false populism of a rich guy pretending to be the voice of the people.
He offered no positive vision or hope, no acknowledgment of previous presidents’ accomplishments, and no awareness that this was his inauguration, not another campaign rally. If you closed your eyes and listened, you could envision this speech being delivered in Moscow’s Red Square, simply by substituting “Russia” for “America.” It was a sickening display that portends troubling days ahead.
The speech’s only positive attribute was that it was short, as Inaugural speeches go. But that’s because Trump himself is short on ideas.
Here are excerpts from my notes, emphasizing the words and phrases that his speechwriter [who should be ashamed of himself for passing this off as an inaugural speech] copied out of the Demagogue’s Dictionary, or cribbed from speeches of previous authoritarians. The all-caps emphasis is mine:
“We are transferring POWER to you, THE PEOPLE.”
“That all changes now. This moment is your moment. The POWER now belongs to you.”
“Today, the people became the RULERS of this nation.”
“You are part of a historic MOVEMENT the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
“One heart, one home. We share one GLORIOUS DESTINY.”
“Today, we are issuing a new DECREE…”
‘It’s going to be AMERICA FIRST.”
“We will ERADICATE radical Islamic terrorism FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH”
“When you open your heart to PATRIOTISM, there is no room for prejudice.”
“When America is united, America is TOTALLY UNSTOPPABLE.”
“We will be protected by GOD”
“A new NATIONAL PRIDE”
“We all bleed the same RED BLOOD OF PATRIOTISM.”
“Our GLORIOUS FREEDOMS”
‘The same ALMIGHTY CREATOR.”
This is what authoritarians, dictators and demagogues sound like. We have now been warned, officially, and in no uncertain terms.