It was four years ago today that President Donald Trump presented this view of the United States: mothers and children trapped in poverty,
rusted-out factories, a broken education system and crime and gangs running rampant. He declared the “American carnage” would stop.
Expect a different view of America today in Joe Biden’s inaugural speech.
This is not the time to attempt to summarize the presidency of Donald John Trump, but it is worth noting what Mr. Trump said as he took office four years ago and what nearly everyone believes Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. must say in his inaugural address today.
President Trump, in his inaugural address, presented a bleak view of a country torn apart by poverty, crime, the loss of manufacturing jobs and a failing education system. This, even though crime nationally had been falling, unemployment had dropped to 4.7 percent (from 8 percent eight years earlier) and manufacturing employment was in recovery.
But perhaps the most remembered line from Trump’s inaugural speech was, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
As Joe Biden assumes the presidency today, circumstances really are bleaker. A worldwide pandemic has severely damaged some parts of the U.S. economy. The federal government’s response to COVID-19 is a mixed bag that should have been better. Unemployment is up, and manufacturing is down. And a large percentage of Republican Party members still believe Biden is not a legitimately elected president.
Yet don’t expect that to be the theme of President Biden’s inaugural address. Instead, he’s expected to ask Americans to unite in the wake of an ugly, unprecedented attack on the Capitol by throngs of domestic terrorists. He’s expected to ask Americans to follow the advice of public health officials in waging war against the coronavirus. And it’s anticipated he will offer a blueprint for getting all of the economy back on track and millions of people back to work.
Sadly for Biden and his backers, the inaugural setting will be stark: fewer people spaced far apart, more flags on the grounds than spectators, a smattering of applause instead of a roar, and thousands of troops assembled in the nation’s capital. The combined threat of more violence in Washington, D.C., and a pandemic has made this the most unadorned inauguration since the early days of the republic.
Perhaps that will give more impact and immediacy to the new president’s words. This nation is in need of peace, healing, recovery and a renewed vision and sense of purpose.