President Donald Trump promised to transfer power “back to you, the people” in his inaugural address Friday.
“Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people,” Trump said early in his remarks. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capitol has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.”
“Their victories have not been your victories,” he continued. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs, and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capitol, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.”
“That all changed starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment,” he said to cheers.
Trump said that the defining mission of his presidency would be a frequent campaign slogan: “America First.” He emphasized that meant re-focusing foreign spending on domestic issues.
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry and subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military,” he said. “We’ve defended other nations borders while refusing to defend our own and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.”
“But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future,” he said.
He also stressed the need for national solidarity, emphasizing that the problems of underserved communities and educational systems were of national concern.
“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential,” he said, painting a grim picture of the nation’s problems.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he said, adding later: “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. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”
Trump had begun his remarks by marking the peaceful transition of power. He thanked the Obamas, who he said had been “magnificent” during the transition period.
“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition,” he said. “They have been magnificent. Thank you.”
This post has been updated.