The King’s Speech

Just think for a moment about how vulgar it will be.

On January 20, King Donald the Worst will be crowned, to the vocal approval of the brainwashed citizens who saw this loser as a leader. After he removes his tiny hand from the Bible, he will speak to a petrified populace…and he will lie as shamelessly as ever.

The last time we elected an entertainer, that particular right-winger said the following infamous words in his inaugural address:

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

Those words were false when Ronald Reagan said them in 1981, but they will be true as of January 20, 2017. Donald Trump’s government will indeed be the problem–for undocumented citizens who will be brutalized by his administration, for citizens of color and members of the LGBT community whose civil rights protections and liberties will disappear, for vulnerable women who will once again have to turn to the back alleys and the coat hangers to terminate unwanted pregnancies, for working-class whites who will pay a savage economic price for having believed Trump’s BS, for the planet that will be roasted like tomorrow’s turkey thanks to this man’s fetish for fossil fuels.

In his inaugural address, the last entertainer we put into this position declared:

[T]his administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination.

Trump could never say such words with a straight orange face. Yes, Reagan also stoked numerous racist fires during his 1980 presidential campaign, but even he knew that at some point, one had to pour rhetorical water on those fires, one had to at least occasionally mouth the words of diversity and tolerance, even if one didn’t really believe in such concepts (as Reagan obviously didn’t). Trump recognizes no such political norms. His inaugural address will surely be laced with the worst stereotypes about anyone who isn’t a wealthy white Christian male. Can an inaugural speech also be considered hate speech? We’ll find out soon enough.

In January 1981, Reagan also said:

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I’ve just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.

Of course, Trump will preside over such a dissolution–and what will Trump and his political and cultural allies say when (not if) we have another 2008-style collapse? What will be their excuse when Trump’s economic policies send this economy into a coma? When the same folks who voted for Trump are driven to destitution by his economic eccentricity, how will he respond? Will he simply borrow that famous line from his Energy Secretary nominee?

Twenty years after Reagan’s inaugural address, a Republican who, like Trump, had his rear end handed to him in the popular vote assumed power. In his inaugural address, George W. Bush ironically declared:

While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it.

Of course, the folks who voted for Trump do accept and allow this. The folks who cast their lot with the former host of The Apprentice actively want to limit the ambitions of Americans who are different from them in terms of race and religion. Their hatred runs that deep. Democrats and progressives can never, ever reason with the reactionary; such hatred can only be held back by the political and cultural defeat of those who take pride in their prejudice.

Bush also stated:

America at its best matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness…If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most. We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment; it is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.

You know Trump burst out laughing when he heard these words back in 2001.

This is not to engage in revisionist history. Reagan and Bush 43 were two of the worst Presidents in United States history, men whose economic and foreign policies were destructive on a near-irreversible level, men who in many respects paved the way for Trump. The point here is that before the right-wing noise machine became fully operational, folks like Reagan and Bush 43 felt some political pressure to rhetorically appeal to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature,” to reassure Americans who did not vote for them that they recognized the importance of decency and dignity and diversity, to make it clear that they did not stand foursquare against America’s best values and virtues. Now, thanks to the right-wing noise machine, Republican presidents don’t have to bother with that sort of rhetorical reassurance anymore; Trump feels no pressure whatsoever to sugarcoat the savagery.

Democrats and progressives will vomit when they hear the nasty, noxious nonsense that will surely flow like a pipeline from Trump’s mouth: the tax-cut magic, the climate-change denial, the conflation of Islam with ISIS, the call for a new-age nuclear arms race. Trump will have no filter and no censor. It will be the most repulsive inaugural address in United States history. It could also prove to be a galvanizing speech for Trump’s political adversaries: if Trump is explicit about his extremism in a way Reagan and Bush 43 could never be, perhaps it could inspire Democrats and progressives to treat him with the same level of intense scorn Republicans and conservatives treated President Obama–the same level of intense scorn Trump deserves.

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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.