How to Cope with the Reality of President Trump

How to Cope with the Reality of President Trump

After an inaugural speech as divisive as his campaign, the reality of President Trump might have set in, but complacency doesn't have to.

After an inaugural speech as divisive as his campaign, the reality of President Trump might have set in, but complacency doesn't have to.

Text: William Defebaugh

Imagine this: it's 2004. The Apprentice, a reality game show that makes a fool of its contestants and a mockery of business, has just made its debut on American television. While you might have heard his name before, Donald Trump—that angry, orange vision of a man—has entered your purview for the first time, largely thanks to that undeniably meme-able signature line, "You're fired." Now imagine this: someone tells you that in twelve years' time, this man will become President of the United States. What would you say?

If you're like many American citizens, elected officials, and lawmakers—many of whom boycotted today's inauguration, making it drastically under-attended compared to years passed—after the ludicrousness of that idea wore off, you might find yourself asking: "How did this happen?"

It's the question that I have not been able to escape since the election results in November. Sure, there are perfectly understandable explanations—namely that Trump tapped into an underestimated and malleable body of Americans who felt like not enough changed under President Obama's regime (despite that if it weren't for him, 18 million of them likely wouldn't have healthcare), and saw Hillary Clinton as more of the same (even though Clinton was, by far, more moderate in her policy views). Trump built his campaign on a promise of a new, greater America, and his supporters were so desperate to believe it that they stopped paying attention to who was saying it.

And to those who claim this didn't happen because of racism or sexism, consider this: If Obama had been accused of sexually abusive rhetoric and behavior during his first election, would he still have had a shot at the White House? If Hillary Clinton had been a white man with all the same experience and political views, is there any doubt that she would have won? The sad, ugly reality is that a man with zero government experience lost to a woman who was decorated in it head-to-toe—so much so that Obama himself said that he could not imagine a candidate more qualified for the presidency.

But here we are. It's January 20th, 2017, and Donald Trump has just really, not hypothetically, been sworn in as the President of the United States. His speech was, expectedly, as divisive, hypocritical, and contradictory as his candidacy platform. He spoke of the poor and disenfranchised, meanwhile his cabinet—whose combined net worth reaches over $14 billion—prepares its move to the White House. He underhandedly insulted his predecessors sitting right beside him mere minutes after thanking them, painting a bleak and hyperbolic picture of the America he has promised to save. And speaking of promises, his speech was full of them: promises to build borders, to strengthen our "depleted" military (on which the Pentagon already spends $6 billion a year, more than is spent on any other army in the world), to fight radical Islamic terrorism (he's the first President to actually use the phrase in an inaugural speech), to replace foreign jobs with American ones (American business men, like Trump, have benefited the most from globalization). He promised to never let us down (remember those words, America).

What do all of these promises add up to? Trump's new age of nationalism, in which he vows to put "America First." Let alone the fact that a man who can't even handle criticism from Meryl Streep and SNL is now in control of our military weapons, that same man is standing on the biggest stage in the world telling them that we think we're better than them, that we're deserving of more. Instead of using that platform to wield words of peace and unity, to talk about working with other leaders to build a better future, he made it all about us, fulfilling everyone's preconceived notions about a self-indulgent and self-absorbed America. He furthered an alarming global trend towards a world divided by nations rather than united by people.

I could ask you that other inevitable question next: "So what do we do now?" But I don't think that's necessary. I think you know what to do next. For every word that echoes war, respond to it with one of peace. For every sentiment that seeks to alienate you from your neighbor, use it as a seed for building community. For every act of hate, return it with love. For every instance of violence, pick up your (proverbial) pen, for Edward Bulwer-Lytton was right: it's mightier than any sword.

Let everything terrible in these next four years energize you. Let it fill you with rage, and then turn that rage into (peaceful) action. In the face of a force that seeks to divide us, let that same force be what brings us together. As a wise woman once said, we're stronger that way.

Read Donald Trump's full speech via the New York Times below:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered, but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day, this is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. Jan. 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of an historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, 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 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.

We are one nation, and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries

while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

We've defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

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. 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.

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. 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.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American. 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.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.

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.

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. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.

It's time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky. They fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words. You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. 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. Thank you. God bless America.

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