Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date



University of Pennsylvania Press

Source Publication

American Political Development and the Trump Presidency

Source ISSN



As the words of his inaugural address echoed across a rain- soaked National Mall, Donald Trump cut a hole in time. His presidency, he said, marked a breaking point in American politics. No longer would a “small group” of elites reap the benefits of government while “forgotten Americans” bore the cost. “Now,” Trump suggested, “we are only looking to the future.” Even so, the speech telegraphed a dystopian pre sent; the United States had become a landscape of rusted- out factories, cities teeming with crime, and national borders defenseless against terrorist threats. Gone was the promised land that Trump’s predecessors foretold in their inaugural speeches, the “city on a hill” that America was destined to be. Trump identified few, if any, sources of political possibility. America would be “made great again” not through providence, but by Trump himself: “I will fight for you with every breath in my body— and I will never, ever let you down.” Rather than binding the nation through conciliation and compromise, Trump promised nationalism: “The bedrock of our politics,” he said, “will be a total allegiance to the United States of America.” He labeled his foreign policy with a phrase burdened with an isolationist and anti- Semitic history: “America First.”



Published version. "Introduction: An Unsettled Time" in American Political Development and the Trump Presidency. Eds. Zachary Callen and Philip Rocco. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020: 1-9. Publisher link. © 2020 University of Pennsylvania Press. Used with permission.

rocco_14829aCC.docx (54 kB)
ADA Accessible Version