Skip the Better Angels, Let’s Invoke Dystopia

I didn’t listen live to Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address. I chose to stand with John Lewis, boycotting the historic moment by sitting with the beavers and kingfishers and Canada geese at Ellis Pond. After walking back to the village, I read a transcript of the speech before I heard any commentary or soundbites. What struck me first was Trump’s dark dystopian vision of America, invoking a landscape of “carnage” so he could promise to save us from it. It didn’t sound like the country I live in, and I didn’t feel like one of “the People” whom Trump addressed.

Ever the hyperbolic salesman, Trump needs to claim something is the biggest, the best, the most amazing something of all time. He may have pulled it off with this speech. It is the most dystopian – probably the first dystopian – inaugural address in U.S. Presidential history. Our job as citizens is making sure its darkness does not become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

For the record, here is the Washington Post transcript that I read, updated with applause lines and annotations. NPR and NYT and many others also have annotated transcripts.  “Annotation” here is a euphemism for “fact-checking”.

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