President Donald Trump is perhaps the most overrated public figure of the modern era. Trump is described in his campaign website as, “The very definition of the American success story”. Talk about bombast and idolatry.
Both Trump and his transition team promised that his inauguration address would be a “philosophical document”. Two days before his inauguration, Trump posted on Twitter a picture of himself sitting at a desk writing his inaugural speech at his Winter home in Florida. For a man who, without shame, disdains ideas and especially the use of precise language, I was deeply skeptical that he would deliver a “philosophical document”.
On Friday,Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. And President Trump delivered his inaugural address. It was not philosophical. It was not uplifting. For a President who lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, President Trump did not have any words to heal a nation that is currently politically divided.
In a rather morbid address, Trump observed that empty factories were strewn across America like tombstones. Trump spoke in apocalyptic terms about families ensnared in poverty and communities and cities staggered by the winds of crime, drugs and gangs. Under the dark winter skies President Trump proclaimed, “This American carnage stops here, right now.”
In his 16-minute address, Trump advanced rapidly to what defined his unlikely rise and what shaped one of the most unconventional campaigns in recent times. In one of his sharpest indictments of Washington, Trump said, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. “
In an unvarnished smack against globalisation, President Trump charged that the wealth of America’s middle class had been ripped from their homes and redistributed all across the world.
The President decreed that a new vision would govern America. “From this day forward, it’s going to be America first. America first,” he declared with emphatic boldness. Protection, in Trump’s view, will lead to “great prosperity and strength”.
President Trump’s remark about an out-of-touch elite and a political order that is massively rigged against swelling ranks of the underclass has universal resonance.
Here in Kenya, a small club of ethno-political and business elites has prospered at the expense of tens of millions of hard working citizens.
Too often, ordinary citizens are denied basic social services. Our children lack adequate and well-prepared teachers. Millions of youths graduating from our schools, colleges and universities cannot find work. Those who work earn too little to live on. Our cities are choking in filth, poverty and decay. Where is the promise of urbanisation?
The swelling ranks of Kenyans who feel left out are veritable socio-political time bombs. This election period must go beyond narrow ethnic mobilisation for higher voter turnout. I think we have a chance to put Kenya and its long-suffering citizens first.