One of the things I love about my day job is the joy of watching my students surprise themselves with their own gifts and talents. I also adore the fact that our Corporate Communication and Public Affairs program is the home to some of the most successful political, corporate and non-profit strategic communicators in America. In every White House since George H.W. Bush, in congressional offices on both sides of the aisle, in think tanks, policy groups, and the RNC and DNC, you will find an alum of our program.
After the most unique presidential campaign in a lifetime, I wanted my students in my Preachers and Politicians course to demonstrate they really understood the demand of presidential communication in light of the demands of American civil religion. So I asked them to do an impossible task for their final exam: write an inaugural address for President-Elect Donald Trump that was designed to call America to unity. This was not to be a recitation of policy. This was not to be a victory lap. This was a speech that was to bind wounds and try to move forward. Knowing that several members of my class vehemently opposed Mr. Trump, I added several stipulations: the address must reflect the ‘voice’ of Mr. Trump; it had to be true to the principals he laid out during the campaign; it could not be used to further their own personal agenda. The bottom line: You can’t re-write history, and you can’t always choose your candidate.
Here is a secret: No professor wants to grade final exams. But on the due date of these exams, I was excited and anxious. Maybe I had asked them for too much. Even though they were seniors, was I asking them to demonstrate a maturity that the so-called adults still had not found in their civil discourse? As I read them, one after another, tears filled my eyes. . What these 22-year-olds had done was swallow their pride and searched for the good in a man that for many of them (gay, African American, Muslim, and progressive) they believed did not exist. They gave him words that would allow him to chart for the first time the Via Media—the middle way that we so desperately need.
They gave me their permission to share excerpts of their papers with you. I have gone a step further and compiled these excerpts into what I consider to the ULTIMATE inaugural address—short and sweet (sorry, I remember Clinton’s first inaugural).
An Inaugural Address for Donald J. Trump (Written in Aural Manuscript)
By Shayan Gaziani (SMU 2017)
Spencer Gutierrez (SMU 2017
Caitlyn Chapman (SMU 2017)
Good morning everyone and welcome.
It is nice to be here today.
It is cold-it has been cold, but today we celebrate a new warmth.
Today marks the first day
in which we embark on a long journey to make our country great and whole again. Today marks the day
that we begin the process of thawing our nation and ushering in a new spring.
Today marks the day that we revisit our promise to the world-an ours to it-and together accept the mandate to make America a beacon of life, liberty, and prosperity.
I must first thank the man who came before me,
President Obama for his faithful service to our nation.
Thank you, sir
, for eight years of dedicated service to our nation
in the office of the President, for the years prior as senator,
and for the many forthcoming years of service I am sure you will embark upon. I look forward to working with you in the years to come and seeking your counsel.
It is no surprise that this election cycle was painful. It was long and it was blistering. However, that is the wonder of our nation—
we can talk about our ideas robustly, passionately, and openly.
I was humbled to do this with Secretary Clinton.
We may have had our differences but what matters most
is that we both share a passion and dedication for bettering our country.
She has worked very hard in her life, serving this nation and its citizens and she deserves our respect and appreciation.
I mean that, I really do.
I know-we all know that the past year and a half was difficult.
But, we dug, where we needed to dig to get to the root of our problems as a nation. That hurt. It hurt me and it hurt others. However, as President Obama has very eloquently said: “the sun will always rise, and we must work to heal.” Very, very wise words.
I stand before you ready to strike a new beginning in American politics. A time when politicians will finally be the voice for those they serve, and the self-interest of government will be no more. As we stand on this precipice of a new beginning,
we must make the choice to let the values we hold dear
guide us to make the American Dream
a reality for millions of citizens.
It is on all of us to uphold the most basic principle of democracy:
to follow the will of the people.
I trust that we will , as we always have
prove democracy to be the best solution for the nation’s problems.
The American voters made a choice on November 8th.
They made a choice to lead us away
from a time where in the expanse of our daily lives,
we forgot about the average family.
We forgot about those whose backs support our nation.
We forgot about those who labor, day and night
to provide for their families and ours.
We became complacent with being second.
We became complacent with unfair tax policies, with high crime rates
and with a rise of low wages, and with a pervasively dwindling middle class.
But 18 months ago, I made a promise to the American people. Today, you allow me to fulfill that pledge but even more so you have granted America a second chance. All great nations in history have been offered second chances and this is ours.
But let’s be clear, this choice was loved by some and feared by others.
But let me assure you of something.
I will serve you and your families.
I will uphold my promise to be your president and your supporter.
In turn, I ask of you to work together with each other and with me
to restore the glory of our great nation, regardless of who you are.
Behind me sit a long line of presidents.
A generation of leaders who dedicated for, and some time eight years of their lives to lead this country.
Today, I am honored to be able to join in that fellowship.
I am honored to work to revive our status as the greatest superpower on earth,
to restore the majesty of our nation , and to serve on behalf of all Americans—and I mean all Americans.
Unfortunately, we have suffered great division and we are broken.
We are hurt, we are out of work,
and we are worried about the safety of our small towns and inner cities alike.
We must come together; we will only heal when we come together.
We will only succeed when we come together. We must listen-really listen-to the needs of one another as we strive to renew our commitment to our fellow citizens and our nation.
Believe it or not, I have listened. I have heard the cries of families struggling to put food on the table. I have heard the concerns of a workforce that is struggling to find good paying jobs. I have listened and heard the cries of mothers who are afraid that their children won’t come home safe at night.
You see there is a great strength that comes from listening
and that applies to both sides.
Understanding the fears of our neighbors and our neighbors understanding ours. When we all seek to understand each other, we can finally move forward.
NOW, is the time to move forward.
Moving forward will not be an easy process;
it will not be a quick process. It will be a road filled with obstacles,
but we will listen, we will understand, and we will move forward together.
But, I cannot do this alone. No one can.
They (motioning backward to the former presidents) could not.
I am asking you as the founders did,
to serve and be the best citizens you can be.
We will only be as strong as our people.
And what makes us strong is our dedication not to ourselves
but a dedication to work harder, to achieve more for our families and our neighbors -with an ultimate allegiances to God and country.
When we work together-and history has shown us—we can do great things.
Truly, fantastic things.
We are the nation that was born from a promise.
We are the nation that liberates, educates and
that is the crucible for the universal values of freedom, democracy, and prosperity. We are the nation that is humble yet strong
courageous and persevering.
We have faced many challenges in our past,
battled many war against those who are against us and our values.
As we gather today for this ceremony, a renewal of sorts,
we recommit ourselves to becoming that nation once again.
I know our path will not be easy. It has not been and unfortunately, I do not think it will be moving forward. However, this is the nature of change. In order to be different and to be revolutionary, to escape history and embrace change we will have to struggle. Only with working hard and working together, can we really move forward. Together, we will win. Together, we will succeed. Together we will make America great again.
However, this is the nature of change. In order to be different and to be revolutionary, to escape history and embrace change we will have to struggle. Only with working hard and working together, can we really move forward. Together, we will win. Together, we will succeed. Together we will make America great again.
. In order to be different and to be revolutionary, to escape history and embrace change we will have to struggle. Only with working hard and working together, can we really move forward. Together, we will win. Together, we will succeed. Together we will make America great again.
It has not been and unfortunately, I do not think it will be moving forward. However, this is the nature of change. In order to be different and to be revolutionary, to escape history and embrace change we will have to struggle. Only with working hard and working together, can we really move forward. Together, we will win. Together, we will succeed. Together we will make America great again.
To those who will try to keep us from fulfilling that promise, here or abroad, Scripture says: “For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated.”
It also says, “Tell the righteous that it will go well for them, for they will eat the fruit of their labor.”
Understand that our cause is infallible
because our cause is just and it is righteous.
Our cause is what binds us, what supports us, and what elevates us
Our cause is universal, sealed in the nature of our policies,
evident in the values of our families, rooted in the foundation of our democracy,
and supported by the divine.
We owe a duty to the Almighty and all the Earth
to make sure that we triumph.
For too long we have labored.
It is now time for us to reap the fruits of our hard work.
Forgotten promises shall no longer be forgotten, and faith shall be restored.
This moment will go down in history as the turning point for our nation.
Today, we will finally make America work for her people as it was always intended. Today, let us work together to better our country.
Let us strive together to achieve great things.
Let us labor together to set an example for the rest of the world.
Finally, let us pray together for our success.
Today, is a day that we usher in the promises of tomorrow.
Today is a day in which we revisit the mandate of the American dream,
and we accept our responsibility to reform this nation into the city on the hill it was set to be. Today is a historic day. I am honored to be able to share it with you. Let us indeed rejoice in it.
Thank you. May God bless you all. And may God bless the United States of America.