In his speech last night before both houses of Congress, Donald Trump sounded more presidential than ever, championing middle-class America in his tough talk about financial responsibility and law and order. In direct contrast to decades of presidents selling free trade, Trump said he is going America-first and make the country great again.
By Mark Anderson
Even ABC News, a frequent Trump antagonist, had to admit that Donald Trump sounded more presidential than ever Tuesday night at his first address to Congress. One key remark by Trump that surprisingly earned some media recognition right after the address was: “My job is not to represent the world; my job is to represent the United States of America.”
In a world harmed by attempts to abandon the idea of the nation-state and consolidate and centralize power in fewer and fewer hands—a process which the big media has long supported—it’s ironic but welcome that Trump’s pledge to back away from a world imperium and put America first is earning him some media accolades.
Trump’s assertion to Congress that he’s not a would-be world ruler followed his observation that, for way too long, America’s struggling middle class has been tied to the whipping post while the U.S. government has pursued expensive, often dead-end global projects, such as spending $6 trillion in the Middle East over 15 years. In the process, Trump said that the U.S. has protected every nation’s borders but its own.
Trump added that past U.S. efforts under other administrations to be the world’s governor have led to leaky borders. That, he said, has allowed drugs to pour into the U.S. in record amounts, leading to crumbling inner cities and spiking crime.
From there, Trump said to Congress that he planned to:
- Repeal and replace Obamacare while covering pre-existing conditions.
- Continue arresting and deporting illegal aliens who commit crimes while finishing the border wall.
- Support NATO but make sure the other alliance members carry a larger share of the costs.
- Support fair trade, while invoking Abraham Lincoln’s approval of protectionist economic measures.
- Ensure constitutional literalist Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
- Make sure veterans get the medical care they deserve.
- Spend a trillion dollars on crucial infrastructure upgrades—though such upgrades could have been done five times over with the money frittered away in Middle East military misadventures.
- Finish the Dakota and Keystone oil pipelines, although Trump has been silent on the fact that many Nebraskans, South Dakotans, tribal members, and others have strong concerns that a burst pipeline could pollute the Ogallala Aquifer and other bodies of water, not to mention property rights infringements that have occurred and will continue to occur as pipeline sections are laid.
Trump did not directly mention U.S. relations with Russia, a nation that the collusive mainstream media-intelligence apparatus insists, without evidence, is a permanent enemy of the U.S. However, he did reiterate that “radical Islamic terrorism” is a foe that he will vanquish, though he shied away from directly lambasting Iran.
A chief challenge for Trump is how he’s going to pursue better Russian relations—a goal suggested in general terms by remarks he has made in other speeches—while at the same time crushing ISIS within the borders of Russian allies like Syria.
Trump pledged to reduce excessive domestic regulations that hamper economic growth.
He also stole a lot of thunder from Democrats in Congress and beyond by calling for paid maternity leave and making sure women can get capital to start businesses.
And with Trump pledging to put millions of Americans gainfully back to work—at a time when Democrats are already a minority in both chambers—the Democratic Party’s traditional image of working-class hero is being transferred to the GOP under Trump, a seismic shift that likely will weaken the Democratic Party even more as it tries to live down the “Hillary syndrome.”
“I’m not sure I’ll ever be a Democrat again,” a Bay City, Mich. resident told NBC’s “Today” show the morning of March 1, in a segment called “In Trump They Trust” that sounded quite upbeat compared to the usual dire media fare about Trump served to the American people.
Even a two-time Obama voter with progressive values told NBC that he liked Trump’s speech to Congress, both in content and in its “regular-guy” tone.
The background was Bay City itself, a former industrial powerhouse in a state of relative decline. The Bay City residents interviewed by NBC believe their city will see a rebound under Trump.
One Bay City man told NBC that he even sees some parallels between Trump’s economic views and the views of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Interestingly, while Democratic members of Congress (especially women members wearing white during Trump’s speech to symbolize their defense of women’s rights) stayed seated and rarely cheered Trump’s points, Sanders, a former Democratic president candidate, was seen clapping when Trump pledged to make it a lot easier for U.S. companies to stay here and create jobs and make it a lot harder for them to leave the U.S.
A few days before Trump’s address to Congress, in an almost forgotten 45-minute speech on Feb. 24 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland, Trump addressed Republicans directly, going a lot further in backing away from a U.S.-led world government.
“Global cooperation, getting along with other countries, is good; it’s very important,” he said in Maryland. “But there is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency or a global flag. This is the USA that I’m representing. I’m not representing the globe.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.