People have asked me over the years what I would like to do if I wasn’t a religious educator. I give them three ambitions or interests. A college basketball play by play announcer, an OBGYN, or a speech writer. I know that’s a broad professional range. Ask my boys about the first interest, my wife about the second one, and keep reading about my third interest.
First, a few thoughts about my attempt. I think president-elect Trump should deliver a very short inaugural address. George Washington’s second inaugural was only four sentences. I don’t think president-elect Trump should be that brief. But I do think he should follow the counsel that FDR gave to his son before a speaking engagement: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
Speaking of FDR, his fourth inaugural was just over 500 words. Lincoln’s second inaugural was just over 700 words. Most of the others were quite long. Trump should come in under 1000 words. I think for most part, people will be watching and listening how he says his words, rather than what he says. The shorter and more sincere his speech, the more people will actually listen to his words. A shorter, thoughtful, and personal speech will be to his advantage.
For that reason I don’t think he needs to regurgitate campaign rhetoric. I don’t think he needs to explain policy during his address. I think he needs to genuinely tell people he is serious about getting to work and leave listeners with an assurance that is what he and his administration are going to do.
I hope the inaugural speech is simple and heartfelt. Here is my attempt of an inaugural speech for Donald Trump:
In Revolutionary rhetoric, patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Events of our day resurrect the words.
For many days I have been briefed on trying situations and trying issues that concern all Americans. There are solutions for these situations and issues. There are some serious tasks before me—and before you.
I have also spent several days contemplating the condition of my heart. I want to be a statesman concerned about inspired direction and not a politician operating by shallow motives and divisiveness.
Cities need to be cleaned up and restored. Individuals and families need to be strengthened. Hearts need to be softened and encouraged. For this to happen, we all need to consider the condition of our hearts and the actions that spring from them.
I promise not to be a grandstanding public servant with the narrow view of personal aggrandizement. I must make a great effort to be genuine and consider wisely the well-being of all Americans.
Near the end of his presidency, Calvin Coolidge noted: “It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshippers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”
I wholeheartedly concur with President Coolidge’s wise observation. I must be very careful and humble, so my judgment is never impaired.
For this reason we must change how we do things. As public officers, media representatives, and bureaucrats we must bring down the artificial atmosphere, the pomp, and shallow traditions. My intention is to be genuine. A president should not be scripted in all things and at all times. Neither should you. Nor should traditions dictate presidential administration. Nor should traditions impede change and progress for you. The Constitution of the United States provides the guidelines and authority by which I must govern—not traditions, not perceived protocol.
So, I want to be clear: things will change without jeopardizing the sacred grandeur of the office of President of the United States. Things will change to honor the sovereignty that our founding brothers and sisters gave so much to establish.
There is a slight worry that presses itself upon my mind. There are some indicators that liberty-loving people may be declining. Maybe it is because of our dependency upon the arm of government. Maybe it’s our indifference to what government is doing or not doing.
After struggling with hunger and thirst in the wilderness, the children of Israel complained to Moses, “would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full.”
Indeed, they had bread in Egypt, but they were slaves to Pharaoh and his princes. They labored to support another’s existence while being robbed of independent character. I am sure Pharaoh emphatically reminded the Israelites before they left: “Egypt is the only answer!”
Government is not the only answer. Individual virtue. Strong families. United neighborhoods and communities will make America great again. It will instill in each of us an independent character.
Early in the Nineteenth Century Thomas Adams conveyed an interest in becoming a public servant. His tested father, John Adams, judiciously counseled: “Integrity should be preserved in all events…through every stage of his existence. His first maxim then should be to place his honor out of reach of all men. In order to do this he must make it a rule never to become dependent on public employments for subsistence.”
He then sagaciously and lovingly taught his son: “Let him have a trade, a profession, a farm, a shop, something where he can honestly live, and then he may engage in public affairs, if invited, upon independent principles. My advice to my children is to maintain an independent character.”
As each of us develop a stronger independent character America will re-position her moral greatness. My administration will forge ahead tilling the ground for you, your families, and your friends. There is plenty of dormant, idle, and unused ground that needs to be tilled. We want to provide the soil and environment where you can find your independent character.
Let us reflect: For more than 240 years, the people of other nations have been taking notes on America’s generosity and productivity. They have noted her inventions and followed her educational endeavors. They have benefited from her inventions and relied on her commerce and industry. They have been blessed by her resources and inspired by her religions. They have been protected by her military and tutored by her government. They have noted the strength of her families and studied the faith of her fathers. The whole world has America’s unfolding destiny in sight.
My dear friends—that is how it has been for 240 years. Let us now concentrate efforts in the next four years to be extremely generous and eagerly productive. Let us invent and educate with power. Let us strengthen our military, but more so our faith and our families. Let us stand tenaciously in that liberty wherewith God has made us free.
I do pray for God to bless each of you. I do pray for God to bless the United States of America. But perhaps we ought to consider how to obtain the blessings. Moses said if we keep the commandments of the Lord and walk in His ways and hearken unto His voice we would obtain the blessings.
With spirit and resolve, let’s go claim God’s blessings.
NOTE: 949 words.