Donald Trump’s first address as president may have sounded like a “Make America Great Again” campaign speech, but he did include at least a few bright words about the promise of science and technology.
“We stand at the birth of a new millennium,” he said at the U.S. Capitol after his swearing-in, “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 our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions.”
Trump’s references to the technologies of tomorrow provided some relief in an inaugural address that drew the same battle lines that the unconventional candidate laid out during the campaign.
For too long, “Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth,” he said. “Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.”
He laid out a scary vision of America’s current state, referring to inner-city poverty, rusted-out factories and “crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives.”
“This American carnage stops right here, and stops right now,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump said “a new vision” would come into force: “From this moment on, it’s going to be America first, America first.”
The new president highlighted his trillion-dollar initiative to rebuild American infrastructure as a key part of his plan to “bring back our jobs.”
“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation,” Trump said. “We ill get our people off 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.”
The address drew applause and cheers from the thousands of Trump supporters surrounding him at the Capitol, but sparked questions as well.
Trump’s vision of the nation’s current state runs counter to economic statistics that show the unemployment rate falling from a peak of 10 percent in 2009 to 4.7 percent this month. Household income is on an upswing after the Great Recession of 2008-2011. The reported violent crime rate has been on a long-term downward trend, although statistics show an upturn in 2015.
Surveys suggest that Trump’s popularity on the national level is on the negative side of the spectrum, but today’s tough talk came as music to the ears of his supporters.
“What I don’t know yet is what’s going on on social media,” veteran NBC News commentator Tom Brokaw said after the speech. “My guess is, he’s getting a ‘hoo-rah’ and ‘well done’ and high-fives, and ‘those idiots on television … they don’t know what they’re talking about.'”
For Brokaw’s benefit, here’s a sampling of the reaction on social media:
— PRESIDENT Lil Trump (@USAneedsTRUMP) January 20, 2017
This speech was a resounding, blunt, populist punch in the face of the political establishment.
The people punched back today.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 20, 2017
On MSNBC, Brian Williams: “A speech that in 1961 gave us ‘Ask not.’ Today, gave us 'American carnage.’"
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) January 20, 2017
I'll be unembarrassedly old-fashioned here: It is profoundly depressing and vulgar to hear an American president proclaim "America First."
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 20, 2017
Space companies already lobbying the new president. https://t.co/lBA0fLW1ib
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) January 20, 2017
Everyone mocking Trump for talking about "unlocking the mysteries of space" is forgetting that he's just been told what happened at Area 51.
— Damian Counsell (@DamCou) January 20, 2017