The transcript that follows is taken from "Speech: Donald Trump Delivers a Fourth of July Speech at the Lincoln Memorial - July 4, 2019" with thanks to Factbase. CPE-WGE discussion in bolded red.
The opening segment starts conventionally enough. Though the opening recognition starts with an acknowledgement of senior members of the government organs, it may be worth noting the emphasis, this time, on the military--both through its participation, and as the particular object of the celebrations this year. Indeed, the celebrations, in that respect are noted to be a special salute to America, foreshadowing something unconventional that may follow. The focus, especially will be on the military. But not just the conventional "thank you dor your service" incantation popular with presidents since the 1990s, but rather with an effort to center the military of the heart of the construction and preservation of the Republic. The U.S. in the new era, as will be developed through the speech, is the product of a militant faith in its own gospel, one which requires patient maintenance, as well as protection from the forces outside that might undo the great American experiment. It is only in the shadow of that armed vigilance that the genius of the American people can flower.
The address starts here. And the start is quite curious. For those with an ear for Hollywood--a center of the control and expression of cultural narrative in the United States--the tone is set immediately with "we are part of one the greatest story ever told."
As Hollywood would have it, there was another--the story of the life, work, passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the heralding of a new era, marked by a new covenant between God (as Christians would come to embrace that term) and humanity. Those with any memory of movie making a generation old--and the priestly keepers of the Hollywood cultural flame, would immediately understand the reference, and its politics. That politics involves both a connection with a divine past and its projection through the body of the Republic into its "new era." And indeed, the description of the American version of the "greatest story ever told" parallels in quite strong ways the story of the earthly ministry of Jesus, whose spirit might well be incarnated in the American people. That saga has a politics as well--of thirteen colonial states (and thus the reference to the Nike controversy about the racism of its so-called Betsy Ross flag shoe) whose journey to independence produced a political theology that represented a new covenant between a state and its people. And it was a declaration made under severe military threat as the Americans sought to overcome their position as a British subaltern and remove the shackles of colonialism (note the way that the language appropriates what in the 20th and 21st centuries was thought to "belong" to newly decolonized people outside of North America and Europe). These are all fighting words within the inter-factional warfare that commenced with the election of Mr. Trump in 2016.
Like the Chinese who have deeply woven their history of semi-colonialism into the heart of their cultural expression of political theory, so Mr. Trump attempts to do the same with a story farther removed by time. In the process he attempts two things. First to draw a connection between faith and action in the service of "higher values" encrusted onto our political theory which must be protected by force of arms. And second, to draw a direct connection from that revolutionary "spirit" to the constitution of the contemporary American patriot. In both cases, the notion of a great power enchained, whose outward expression must be read in light of that history, is offered as a foundation of political theory and legitimacy--then and now.
Here Mr. Trump provides the evidence of that spirit form the founding generation to the present. He seeks to connect the conventional episodes of greatness to this spirit. And in the process he privileges a narrative of greatness that is to some extent a full throated rejected of the revisionist narrative that had been developing form the 1990s among the intellectual and cultural production classes--underwritten by a business class imbued with the spirit of risk mitigation and compliance. These are fighting words within the factional war in the United States.
For some reason, Americans really like catalogue songs. And it has become conventional among political speakers to include a long section that identifies specific individuals and events as significant exemplars of the great insights they appear to be putting forward, That is the poetry of contemporary speech making. The politics, of course, is in who is privileged with acknowledgement, and who is veiled in the silence of nonrecognition. It works the way that the knowledge production is managed by the "community" of scholars charged with the protection of its basic line and orthodox approach.
But it also works like Leporello's catalogue aria to Dona Elvira in Don Giovanni. This is as true for the catalogue speeches of President Obama as it is for Mr. Trump--though their objects were quite different.But of course this is not merely opera buffa. Lists are central to the Western mentality, and to the way the West orders, arranges, and relates to objects. It applies an implied taxonomy that itself expresses a structured system of values which is operationalized through the construction of lists. All lusts have a purpose, all choose data and reject others, all apply an analytics based on the principles through which data is recognized and valued, and all then produce a judgment based on the algorithm that invests the list with an ordering power in cultural, political, economic, and societal terms. That is way politicians and the intelligentsia can't resist lists. And lists are used effectively here (as they will be used by the opposition in rebuttal).
What does the righteous American spirit look like? What does it produce? It is in answer that the fairly long catalogue area continues for a good portion of the speech. And in the process, it serves to give shape to the values and the context in which America became "first." And that is an important connection--America first because of the faith in its values that are govern expression by its politics that serves to produce a space in which the best of human nature--its quest for human welfare as well as its militant protector of its values--can emerge, not for itself but as a gospel of good tidings. And in a twist on the well known story in Luke of the Annunciation, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee" Luke 1:35. It is in those good tidings that America First can be projected outward as a form of gospel to be shared with the word, but internalized by each nation ready to be saved. Each looking to that "just and virtuous republic" for its own salvation. This is not just a military but a religious conception of the Republic, deeply imbued with references that have been lost on the generations that have long ceased embedding the Old and New Testaments onto their lived realities. .
And what is the character of that "righteous American spirit" which infuses and gives form to America militans (more on this below and note the traditional iconography and its identity to the key elements of the speech).
The spirit of America is a creed; one that sins but seeks to repent and find its true meaning (referencing Martin Luther King). The speech is full of references to the core American values that give it form---and which serve as a rough analogue to the twelve core socialist values now embedded within Chinese political-ethical culture. These include heroism in the form of self sacrifice, creativity and genius, a willingness to push boundaries, fearless resolve, selfless generosity, the willingness to take care of each other, independence of masters,
And thus the list here reveals both the value choices and the narrative that is at the new era thinking of Trump core. It is one that infused faith with martial potential. Youth are urged to follow in the marital footsteps of their ancestors. Faith communities produce their saints and martyrs, and the American Ecclesia militans, the faithful who struggle as soldiers against sin and the Devil. That gathers together the catalogue into a recognizable form. It expresses the American version of the fundamental contradiction of this stage in the development of the nation and its people, and shows the path forward to the resolution of that contradiction. In this case the contradiction is easy to state--the need to rekindle the essence of America militans for which the catalogue of saints and martyrs serves as an example. These serve as well to make the U.S. a light unto the world.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16).That marital quality in the service of the great ideals of the nation are the object of the next list.
And that spirit is necessary precisely because the ideal that the United States represents has always been surrounded by those who would destroy it. The preservation of all that is good inside requires the projection of a power to defend it here and elsewhere. Here we begin a Second catalogue--of the centuries of aggression of the enemies that encircle the "light of the world" and would have it extinguished. And this too catalogues the principles that define the spirit of America. This is evident even to the harshest critics of the current expression of that vision (e.g., here for the poster above)
It is in that sense that what is good for America acquires its globalized form--not because it is American but because the Americans express a version of the universal principles to live by and thus serve as the light. (Image source here))
For the United States, those notions are bound up in the performance of ancient witnessing in new era garb. In that context there was no better closing for the speech of the leadership core than that of the anthem of the American Empire in the new era--the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Notice the profound meaning of each of the words alone, and their effect together. Battle (conflict, defense)--hymn (a paean to a higher power whose mandate is reflected on Earth by those who invoke the Higher Power through hymn)--Republic (the communal incarnation and reflection of that higher power). Not our truth, HIS truth.
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free;
While God is marching on.
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.