President Donald Trump on Friday used his inaugural speech to champion the cause for protectionism across the United States.
“From this moment on, it’s going to be America First,” Mr. Trump said. “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”
“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”
Mounting the Capitol Hill platform overlooking the Washington Monument, Mr. Trump scolded recent past American leaders for what he said was failing to put the interest of the United States at the front of major policy decisions; a trend he promised to reverse.
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” Mr. Trump said. “Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.”
“Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.”
Mr. Trump said he will use his presidency to pursue the interest of America first in everything he does for the time he will serve as the leader of the world’s most powerful nation.
“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American,” Mr. Trump said.
But he dialled back considerably from his often contentious rhetoric during the campaign.
“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilised world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other,” he said.
At some point, Mr. Trump, who was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, made reference to the bible.
“The Bible tells us, ‘how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
“We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity,” he said.
His speech drew immediate criticism from mostly Democratic Party strategists who slammed it as being too much on populist rhetoric and a pander to the far right.
David Axelrod, a former aide to ex-President Barack Obama, likened Mr. Trump’s speech to a “Communist manifesto.”