TTP: A Piece Of The Puzzle From 1913: The Trump And Wilson Inaugural Speeches

TTP: A Piece Of The Puzzle From 1913—The Wilson and Trump Inaugural Speeches

I know, you’re swimming (or seeking dry land) in the coverage of the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump. And yes, I know I just posted a piece yesterday. I ask for forgiveness and pledge to keep this short.

But I want to show you something.

I’ve recently designed and led a seminar on using history to understand a Trump Presidency and its impact on leadership by people just like you. I’ve entitled it “3 Pieces of the Puzzle.” (see website for details)

One of my three pieces is the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, which I believe we will see extensively recreated in the presidency of Donald Trump. What’s my evidence for this? Well, for starters, take a quick look at the two inaugural speeches of Donald Trump in 2017 and Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and you’ll be struck by a few shared points. 

  • The problem…

In 1913, Wilson stated, “The evil has come with the good.”

In 2017, Trump stated, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

  • The establishment…

In 1913, Wilson stated, “The great Government we loved has too often been made use of for private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had forgotten the people.”

In 2017, Trump stated, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capitol has reaped the rewards of goverhment while the people have borne the cost.”

  • The way ahead is reclamation of the way lost…

In 1913, Wilson stated, “We have made up our minds to square every process of our national life again with the standards so proudly set up at the beginning and have always carried at our hearts. Our work is a work of restoration.

In 2017, Trump stated, “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.

  • Gathering support…

In 1913, Wilson stated, “I summon all honest men, all patriotic, all forward-looking men, to my side.”

In 2017, Trump stated, “You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage, your goodness, and your love will forever guide us along the way.”

Finally, through it all, in 1913 and 2017, a spirit flows in the words of Wilson and Trump that the urgency is here, in the United States, and that elsewhere beyond the US our well-wishes will be offered but our focus and our resources will be used here and here alone. Wilson said nothing at all about the world. Trump said only slightly more. That’s fine; I understand it. Not everything can be included in a brief speech.

Permit me, though, to invoke one of the classic quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes: the importance of the dog that didn’t bark in the night. As Wilson’s presidency unfolded, world events cared nothing about his decision of silence in his first major speech. Out there, in the darkness of the future, lurked a thing that would soon come to be named “The World War.” You and I would be wise to maintain a firm grasp on what happened in the years of Wilson as a precursor, both domestically and globally, for the years of Trump.

Action-Point: As a presidential administration, an entity or quantity of its own, the Trump Presidency will likely share many features with that of Woodrow Wilson, who, like Trump, after a bitterly divisive election sought to govern on the basis of domestic and inward-looking policies and issues.

Next time: as promised before again and again, I’ll explain my Trump Rule.