Striking populist tone, Trump promises: ‘You will never be ignored again’

In an inaugural address fired with the populist fuel of his norm-shattering campaign, President Donald Trump on Friday vowed to take on entrenched interests in Washington, secure America’s borders, fix its infrastructure, bring back factory jobs, and wipe out terrorism. “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” he promised. “You will never be ignored again.”

Trump portrayed parts of the country as suffering through economic devastation — a bleak landscape of shuttered factories, despairing parents, undocumented immigrants, and at the mercy of drugs and gangs.

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“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he said from the steps of the Capitol. “America will start winning again — winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our borders, we will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams.”

Looking overseas, the 45th president vowed to enlist old allies and new ones in a war that will not end until it sweeps away “radical Islamic terrorism” — a phrase shunned by his two immediate predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who sat behind him during the remarks.

“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” Trump predicted. He did not name Russia, but the president is known to favor closer ties with Moscow.

As he did during his improbable campaign, Trump cast himself less as a Republican and more as an outsider prepared to shake up Washington and take on “the establishment,” including many of the assembled politicians who watched him speak the 35 words of the oath of office.

“We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action — constantly complaining but never doing anything about it,” he said. “The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

LIVE UPDATES: Complete coverage of the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump

And, he said, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” The comment may have surprised Republican leaders eager to reap the benefits of legislative and executive branches united under the GOP’s sway.

President Donald Trump. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
President Donald Trump. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

For much of his remarks, Trump railed against the world order that the United States built and sustained in the aftermath of World War II, implicitly echoing his campaign-trail attacks — on China as an economic predator and of some NATO partners as freeloaders.

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military,” he said. “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Former speechwriters survey the carnage of Trump’s speech

Trump, who has vowed to rip up or rewrite trade deals he blames for lost American jobs, seemed to expressly endorse economic protectionism.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” he said. “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

And he reached for themes of unity after the divisive presidential race, while reciting his campaign slogan.

“Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again,” he promised. “And yes, together we will make America great again.”

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