We have a new president and are beginning to see how he will handle himself. Immediately after his swearing in he gave his inaugural address. To me it was the most negative inaugural speech I have ever heard and I have heard every one since John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Trump’s speech will be remembered here as the ‘Carnage’ speech in which he belittled America when he said, “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 all 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.”
The world will know it as the ‘America First’ speech. They haven’t heard those words since before World War II when they were used to, “Galvanize a mass populist movement against U.S. entry into the war in Europe, even as the German army rolled through France and Belgium in the spring of 1940. A broad-based coalition of politicians and business leaders on the right and left came together as the America First Committee to oppose President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s support for France and Great Britain. The movement grew to more than 800,000 members. While the America First Committee attracted a wide array of support, the movement was marred by anti-Semitic and pro-fascist rhetoric. Its highest profile spokesman, Charles Lindbergh said, ‘The British and the Jewish races for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.’”
On day one the president signed executive orders officially nominating his cabinet and participated in the inaugural parade. Then he went to the Oval office to sign additional orders, including one directing the Department of Health and Human Services to work toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
Day two, the president and his entire family awoke in the White House to see and hear half a million women and men at the Women’s March on Washington give notice they will fight any efforts to move us backwards in the area of civil and human rights and equality for all people.
The president went to the CIA to tell our intelligence community he actually supports them 1,000 percent, something called into question by his recent statements and tweets. Instead of sticking to that mission he went off on an awkward and embarrassing tangent. He talked about the military voting for him and attacked the press for allegedly lying about the number of people who attended his inauguration.
Trump had his new press secretary, Sean Spicer, hold his first press briefing, a diatribe against the press on this same issue repeating the new president’s lies that senior adviser Kellyanne Conway later termed “alternative facts.” Trump tweeted under his new twitter handle @POTUS the press was giving all its attention to the women’s march, millions marched across the nation and on all seven continents, and questioned if they would give the same press to the pro-life march in D.C. next week?
It’s clear Trump is still in campaign mode and hasn’t transitioned or understood what being president entails and how to use the power he now has. It might be a long learning curve.
I am a member of the loyal opposition. Trump unfortunately is my president. But in no way does that hinder me from speaking out and fighting for what I believe in. Step one was marching. If we are to be effective in protecting and maintaining our rights and moving forward to gain those we still don’t have we must do more than march.
We must organize at the community level. I will do so as a Democrat. Our party tent is big and we need to build on it, not tear it down. Nearly 66 million Americans voted for us. We need to both expand and better explain our policies and reach out effectively so 10 million more will join us in 2018. If successful, we will be able to take back governorships, state legislatures, and win school boards and town councils. Our mantra must be equality and economic opportunity for all.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.