WASHINGTON ― The nation’s 45th president promised Friday to put “America first” in all aspects of his administration, painting a dark picture of “American carnage” in an inaugural address that borrowed heavily from his stump speech.
“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power,” President Donald Trump said in his 16-minute speech, delivered from the steps of the U.S. Capitol under gray skies and through light rain. “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.”
Inaugural addresses often attempt to cleave to a unifying theme that brings the country together. But Trump, as he has largely done since his victory in the 2016 election, instead continued with the ideas he pushed during his campaign: that the nation’s leaders have ignored its people, the military has been weakened and bad trade policies have stolen America’s wealth.
“One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind,” Trump said. “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world. But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future.”
Trump also continued with the idea he brought up late in his campaign that communities of color have been abandoned, particularly those in what he called “the inner cities.”
“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,” Trump said. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. We are one nation, and their pain is our pain.”
The speech was written by Trump personally, according to spokesman Sean Spicer, but it contained echoes of nationalist and almost authoritarian ideas favored by top advisers Steve Bannon and Steven Miller.
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other,” Trump said. “We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”
As he had frequently during the campaign, Trump promised a foreign policy that turned inward ― “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first” ― while pursuing a more aggressive policy against violent Muslim extremists: “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
Trump closed his speech the same way he did most of his rallies.
“Together we will make America strong again,” he said. “We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you and God bless America.”