On January 20, Donald Trump took the oath of office and became the 45th president of the United States. Trump’s speech was 1,435 words long. It included the word “I” only three times. “The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans,” said Trump. Later he noted, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.” Whenever he used the word “I,” he used it in reference to his service to our country.
In contrast, Trump used the word “we” 49 times, the words “you” and “your” 23 times, and the words “America” and “American” 50 times. Three times he focused on himself, and 122 times Trump focused on the people of the United States.
He noted the transition of power from one party to another, but more importantly took aim at the “small group in our nation’s capital [that] has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”
Trump vowed to end politics as usual. “That all changes — starting right here, and right now — because this moment is your moment; it belongs to you.”
“What truly matters,” Trump said, “is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”
Trump painted the bright future he envisions: “Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves,” he said.
He contrasted that with the current reality: “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 knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”
That last phrase is the one that connects businessman Trump to President Trump: “Unrealized potential.”
“I’ve spent my entire life and business looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world,” he said in the speech he delivered early in the morning after his election win. “That is now what I want to do for our country. Tremendous potential. I’ve gotten to know our country so well — tremendous potential… Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential.”
Communicating a bright future so we can move to together towards it is what great communicators do, (think President Reagan and his challenge to his Soviet counterpart to tear down the Berlin Wall). In November of 2015, as Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News Sunday, “We have to show people where we’re headed … We have to have a vision and offer an alternative to this country so that they can see that, if we get a chance to lead, if we get the presidency, and if we keep Congress, this is what it will look like.”
Trump understood that, and his campaign focus of “Making America Great Again” helped spur him to victory.
With the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate and House, and Donald Trump as our new president, much change is afoot. During his inaugural speech, Trump put the establishment of both parties on notice that the American people will come first under his leadership. He also spoke about what we can do together. This means that we, the American people, are going to have to work as well.
For those of us who believed that the government solves problems, the time to sit back and wait for big government to solve our problems is over. It’s time for people to take action.
“I think big government displaces what we call civil society. Big government makes it harder for communities to come together and heal problems,” Speaker Ryan told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” in November of 2015. As big government dwindles, the American people will need to step up.
The unrealized potential goes beyond removing unneeded regulations and revising tax codes to include all sorts of other areas. For example, serving as a caring teacher for children who are yearning for an education or helping retrain workers whose job skills need updating, or encouraging potential entrepreneurs who need self-confidence to pursue their dreams.
Throughout the country, neighborhoods exist where trash can be picked up, where teams can be coached, where children can be tutored. Everywhere we look, we can see that there is work we can do. It’s time for us all to pitch in and help.
As our new president has shown us, this is a time to focus less on “I” and more on “we.”