By Sam Burnham
So it is over and done now. Donald Trump took the oath of office at noon today. And then he stood and gave a speech. I don't want to talk bad about the guy because public speaking is hard. But let's face it, he's no Aleck Stephens. The guy just doesn't do well with planned speeches. That's ok. We've had a lot of good presidents that didn't give great speeches and plenty of good speakers who should have just been lawyers. I get it.
But there were a few moments that grabbed me as particularly intriguing.
Early on, he said "we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People." As much as the Twittershpere has ran with this as the new president plagiarizing Bain from the Batman movie, it is one of the strongest points in the entire speech. If he does this, I'll be elated. It will be like Christmas, my birthday, and my anniversary all rolled into one...except even better!
He went on to say "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer", an was an obvious allusion to the people who supported his candidacy - former industrial workers as well as those of us who live in "flyover country". I think that's a great idea. We need to be creating more opportunities in America's rural areas and small towns.
But...(there's always a but, isn't there?)...he went on.
"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." A what? A total allegiance to the United States of America. This is one of those things that sounds so right to a casual listener - "Wooo! U-S-A, U-S-A, U.S.A!!!" But when you really dig in here, the transfer of power from Washington back to the people, especially those marginalized ones in the sticks will be a a total allegiance to the United States. meaning that the entities so often mentioned by the Founders, "The people" and the "several states" must now bow to the authority of the Union. You can't have it both ways.
In order for us to place power back into the hands of the people, we have to get the majority of the power a lot closer to the people. The people live in the several states. The several states must increase and Washington must decrease. The federal government has to get smaller. We must begin to handle more of the business of governing at the state and local level, and the greatness of the people and the states will rise and carry this nation with it. You cannot "make America great again" by putting all of your faith in Washington. We've been doing that for 70 years. It's not working. It's time to return to the original model, the one laid out by the Founders in the Constitution.
It's time to redistribute the power.
Yes, love this nation. Yes, be a patriot. But for all your hopes and dreams, you only have one friend in Washington. It's behind protective glass at the National Archives and it starts out "We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..."
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire