Segal: Trump’s inaugural address
January 14, 2016
A year from this month, the next president will be sworn in. As I watch the campaigns, I find myself alternately fascinated and appalled by the Trump phenomenon. While he rides a wave of rage and resentment to the top of the polls, Republican establishment leaders assure us that he won't win the nomination. Pundits remind us that the frontrunner this far from election day never maintains his lead.
But still, I worry. It's not because I object to Donald Trump's policy positions; as far as I can tell, he doesn't have any yet. I worry because there are millions of Americans who feel, some legitimately, that the country doesn't protect their interests. I worry because I know that populist rage is powerful and, in the wrong hands, dangerous. I worry that instead of leaders who call us to channel our anger into productive policy solutions, we will get leaders who double-down on demagoguery and splinter us further.
I wonder, if Trump were elected, what his inaugural address might say. As a thought experiment, below I've curated excerpts from Trump's campaign speeches and interviews. They are edited lightly for context and punctuation.
"Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people. Thousands. Amazing. Amazing, thank you. So exciting. Do you notice what's missing? Teleprompters! No teleprompters. We don't want teleprompters. That would be so much easier: we read a speech for 45 minutes, everybody falls asleep listening to the same old stuff, the same old lies. So much easier.
"Our country is in serious trouble. The American dream is dead. We're becoming a third-world country because of our infrastructure, our airports, our roads. We got $18 trillion in debt. We got nothing but problems. We've got nothing.
"I have a total net worth over $10 billion. I'm proud of my net worth. I've done an amazing job. I'm not doing that to brag, because you know what? I don't have to brag. I'm doing that to say that that's the kind of thinking our country needs.
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"Now hundreds of companies I've opened — I've used (bankruptcy) three times, maybe four times. Came out great. But I guess I'm supposed to come out great. We owe $19 trillion, boy am I good at solving debt problems. Nobody can solve it like me.
"We have a stock market that frankly has been good to me, but I still hate to see what's happening. I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you that. I'm not cutting services. But I'm cutting spending. We're going to have dynamic economics. And it's going to be something really special.
"There is so much wealth out there that can make our country so rich again, and therefore make it great again. Because we need money. We're dying. We're dying. We need money.
"Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger. And we as a country are getting weaker. I want to have the strongest military that we've ever had — and we need it more now than ever. Within our military, I will find the Gen. Patton or I will find Gen. MacArthur, I will find the right guy. I will find the guy who's going to take that military and make it really work. Nobody, nobody will be pushing us around.
"We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. Don't forget, in my book, written in 2000, I was the one that predicted Osama bin Laden was trouble, and you better do something about him. Well, guess what? 19 months later, he came down and knocked out the World Trade Center, killed thousands of Americans. I put it in a book.
"We need a leader that wrote 'The Art of the Deal.'
"As far as the wall is concerned, we're going to build a wall. They built the Great Wall of China. That's 13,000 miles. Here, we actually need 1,000 because we have natural barriers. And nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. We're going to have a big, fat beautiful door right in the middle of the wall.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
"And Mexico's going to pay for the wall because Mexico — I love the Mexican people; I respect the Mexican leaders — but the leaders are much sharper, smarter and more cunning than our leaders. They're laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me.
"Somebody said to me the other day, a reporter, a very nice reporter, 'But Mr. Trump, you're not a nice person.' I think I am a nice person. People that know me like me. Does my family like me? I think so, right.
"I want to be unpredictable, because, you know, we need unpredictability. Everything is so predictable with our country.
"And I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.
Rabbi David Segal of the Aspen Jewish Congregation can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-925-8245. He blogs at http://www.aspenjewish.blogspot.com. His column runs the first Sunday of the month.