I have a new article on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation on, “Presidential Inaugurations and the Politics of Stealing Apples.”
Through most of the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, some of the reporters on both CNN and Fox News reminded viewers, time-after-time, that this was an almost sacred and inspirational event marking the democratic and peaceful transition between presidential administrations. Millions watched it on their televisions while thousands of others participated in the presidential parade following the inauguration.
I confess that I was neither inspired nor raised to a reverential awe as I watched the transfer of political power from Barack Obama to Donald Trump. What was inspirational in watching one band of political plunderers replacing another? It is certainly the case that if two gangs are battling over control of the same neighborhood it is better that innocent bystanders don’t get caught in the crossfire and that their homes are not destroyed in the street fighting. But it remains the fact that whichever one wins, the goal is to plunder and extort the residents now under “protection.”
It was not always that way. If I were alive at the time, say, in 1801 when Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated, I very likely would have felt a patriot pride and considered myself “proud to be an American.” Even with the imperfections and inconsistencies then in American society, of which slavery was the most notorious, the America of that time was a land of opportunity and free enterprise, open to almost all in which the newly inaugurated president had, himself, been the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence, and it proclamation of each individual’s self-evident right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And Jefferson affirmed those principles and ideals in his own inaugural address.
Compare that to Donald Trump’s inaugural address with its appeal to nationalism, protectionism, and the promise to make all obedient and subservient to whatever interventionist policies and fiscal manipulations necessary to restore “American Greatness,” as the newly installed president sees it. No word or homage to liberty in this inaugural address.
I found no reason to experience reverential awe in the events of January 20, 2017. If ever a person takes that oath of office to the presidency of the United States in the future with a clear and sincere intention and determination to fully restore liberty to America, rather than continue with some variation on the current collectivist theme, I will be happy to be filled with inspirational ecstasy with a democratic transition from the politics of plunder to a constitutional commitment to individual freedom and free markets.
Oh, what about stealing apples? Well, you have to read the article to find out what that’s about.