On a gray, misty day Donald Trump put his hand on a Lincoln bible and become the 45th President of the United States. As he took the oath the rains began, perhaps a message from the heavens.
His inauguration address was brief and more of a campaign speech; the verbiage was somewhat disturbing. The President used the term “American First” a number of times, (“We assembled here today and are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first— America first.”). For those of us with a sense of history we remember that the “America First” movement was virulently isolationist, anti-war and sympathetic to Hitler. An outspoken supporter of America First was Father Coughlin,
For years, Coughlin had publicly derided “international bankers,” a phrase that most of his listeners understood to mean Jewish bankers. In the days and weeks after Kristallnacht, Coughlin defended the state-sponsored violence of the Nazi regime, arguing that Kristallnacht was justified as retaliation for Jewish persecution of Christians.
Trump’s view of our nation as an “American carnage” is chilling,
“… 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 the gangs, and the 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.”
If he followed the passage above with a program, with a plan of some sort he may have started a national dialogue, instead, a dystopian view of our nation. Frighteningly, he sounds like the Philippine leader Dutarte who is encouraging the extra judicial murder of drug dealers.
NPR published an excellent annotated copy of the Trump inaugural address: Read here.
On Saturday I joined the throng, the massive crowd that gathered around the United Nations and eventually paraded across 42nd Street and up Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower. The elderly, the young, the children, men and women, all colors, all ethnicities, it was amazing, and, enormously exhilarating. The signs were a little over the top, a few emphasizing the owner of a body part unique to one gender, or a vulgar term that can be used as many parts of speech to express extreme emotion, others dealing with equity, justice, espousing the basic ideals of our democracy. I chatted with stranger after stranger, upbeat, willing to fight the threat hovering over us all.
The post inauguration ceremonies were distasteful to me, too much like what our first Congress feared, a president looking more like a king. The anti-federalists called George Washington, “King George,” and Washington who was extremely sensitive to the fears of the nation avoided the appearance of royalty. Not so our current President who appears to revel in adulation.
Saturday Night Live (SNL) was hysterical. Watch it here.
Within minutes of the swearing in, the assumption of the office of president, President Trump issued a number of executive orders, one of which begins the disassembling of the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare.
A presidential aide floated a replacement for the ACA that could result radical changes, including block grants to states in lieu of the current support for Medicare/Medicaid. Read details here.
The battle over the cabinet confirmations will continue throughout the next week or so. The Republican Senate leadership does not seem to be on the same page as the President.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary nominee, at his confirmation hearing, said,
“Honoring the U.S. debt is the most important thing. … I would like us to raise the debt ceiling sooner rather than later,” Steven Mnuchin said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday. It’s one of the first issues Mnuchin will have to address as Treasury Secretary, should he be confirmed.
The Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party gang in the House are adamantly opposed to raising the debt ceiling without steep cuts in federal spending.
No matter what President Trump says the one indicator he cannot deny is the stock market. Within hours of the election the stock market jumped, referred to as the “Trump Bump,” and the market is at all-time highs. The market is a sensitive monster, the traders, the hedge funders, the managers of pension funds, mega-brokerage firms have a fiduciary responsibility to manage your dollars, to do not harm. A Trump victory on first look was “good for business;” however, if he seems confused, if he fails to understand our economy, traders have an obligation to protect the assets of their customers, and that means, perhaps, moving funds to “safer” investments that could result in a dipping or diving stock market. Our Great Depression begin with a stock market crash.
While many of us are still angry and cannot accept the results of the election Donald Trump is president. The rallies and demonstrations will continue, the anger will bubble up, and the future is uncertain. Some hope Trump fails, whatever that means, others are fearful is an international calamity.
I have friends who did not vote for Trump, who are fearful, and argue that his failure will be our failure and we cannot pray for the failure of the nation. They argue give him a chance. On the other hand I am reminded of Martin Niemoller; a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I fear that the future President will resemble Philippine leader Dutarte more than our founding fathers.
To quote a former leader, We must “keep hope alive.”