That’s it folks. That’s the end of the election cycle. He’s sworn in. Donald Trump is President of the United States. I know, it still sounds insane. But that happened.
It wasn’t a terrible day. It was a peaceful transition of power, as everyone has noted at length the last two days (whether from the need to remind that it was peaceful, or the need to remind people to be peaceful, I couldn’t say.) There was a lot to be proud of, and the First Family did a fantastic job of fulfilling their roles throughout the day. Work was done. Events were held. The business of transferring the office from one to the other was undertaken, with pomp and circumstance, and it was something to see, as it always is.
There were insane protests too, of course. Angry, violent, bitter protests. Property was damaged, people were injured, pepper was sprayed. We have several articles posted if you wish to read more. But overall, not a terrible day.
If you are frustrated or angry that it really happened, that he’s really the President, you need to accept that you aren’t going to change the past. It has happened. Face that. It is over. He’s the President of the United States. He will be tomorrow. And the next day.. You’re just going to have to live with it. And it’s not just the left that needs to hear that.
Look, the awful feeling of losing an election is all too familiar and recent for Republicans. We felt it in 2009. We felt it in 2013. But now it’s 2017 and the party won. A republican has taken the oath and the office. For a lot of people, that’s a great feeling. Sadly, for many of us who care about having a conservative president rather than one who identifies as Republican, we don’t feel any better than the last two times.
Oh yes, there are things to be optimistic about. Gen. Mattis is the Secretary of Defense. I sleep easier with that knowledge. My children are safer. That’s good. Nikki Haley’s confirmation hearing is a reason to feel good. Betsy DeVos, John Gore, even Dr. Ben Carson … these are things to be happy about.
But there are plenty of things to be unhappy about, and President Trump’s Inaugural Address had a lot of them. His speech painted a near apocalyptic picture of America without his magnificence, and an Eden-like picture of America-to-be under his one-man, beneficent but iron command.
“America first” is a pretty phrase, and the idea of pursuing American interests foremost is natural and sound. It’s responsible. But the casual “America First” idea in his campaign and his speeches, the withdrawn, disengaged, sullen island spitting on imports and genuflecting before “Made in America” stickers, is only a reflection of the responsible, sound position of pursuing national interest. In rhetoric his “first” is less than what it should be in practice.
However, I ask you to remember, please, that we don’t yet know how it will work in practice. His habit has been departing from his speech-making. That may be the case here.
We wanted to hear conservative themes, and as Jay Caruso noted, in comparison to those themes his mostly shoddy speech didn’t stack up.
As speeches go, aesthetically it was nothing special either. Less soaring, more stilted, less smooth, more basic. Maybe that’s good, though. Maybe people find it refreshing. Long have we listened to lofty oratory from our intellectual “betters” only to have them abandon our interests in practice. Maybe President Trump’s echo of campaign fire and brimstone was part of the welcome change Trump voters sought. Out with the old, in with the plain. In that case, well done.
That assessment could apply to the themes as well. A cabal of elites ruining the lives of middle America through nefarious machination is not something you can really prove or disprove, but, sure, in cities and towns across America and in the halls of D.C, a comfortable establishment and liberal cultural elites push policy we don’t want. Look at North Carolina. I would argue for temperance in such talk, but the speech was made and so it is what it is.
Personally, I would rather he had spent less time raising the specters of bogeymen and pirates. I would rather he wasn’t promising huge expensive projects using taxpayer money. I would rather he had said that we can’t spend our way to prosperity, wallow in debt, raise taxes, and expect reward. It’s not what happened.
It was imperfect.
But it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t Hitlerian. (At worst Matthews could have said “Lindberghian, although it doesn’t flow so well and is, of course, also a senseless hysteric.)
Conservatives have a lot to worry about, definitely. And we will worry. And we will all talk about it with coworkers and pray about it at churches and temples and mosques. We will write about it on blogs and post about it on Facebook and Twitter. That is what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to pay attention. Hope for the best, yes, but also watch for the worst. We have to remind our elected servants that they are elected to serve. Even the mighty Donald Trump.
Trust no monarch or dictator, no oligarch or strongman. For my part, I also do not trust the new President, who is none of those. So far.
A lot of Republicans are nearly giddy over a return to power and that is understandable. But remember your own words and arguments. You tell leftists and Democrats every day that a key reason for our right to bear arms is to resist tyranny and keep government in check by the power of the people. That vigilance should extend not just across aisles, but across mediums. We bear pens and typewriters for the same reason, you see.
Resist the urge to dive into the tank and drink deep. I know it’s hard. I see you. When the left punches, and they are throwing wild ones right now, we all of habit man the same tank. The urge, the pressure to get on board is stronger than ever. But I remind you that your job, as a conservative first, is to stand by the ideas that you believe in. Because you believe in them for a reason, and that reason hasn’t changed.
Be vigilant. But don’t panic. It wasn’t the best speech, but it wasn’t the worst. It wasn’t even his worst. Be glad for the new cabinet. Be glad for our majorities. Be glad of actions being taken already that were sorely needed. That’s all fine. But keep a weather eye, too. That’s all I’m saying.
It’s just sensible. It’s just responsible. And it’s more than fair. Nobody is saying being a jerk or a hater. Just be careful and reasonable and honest. Okay?