While it is important to keep these statements in mind, I would argue that this particular speech is filled with euphemisms and dogwhistles, and ultimately the rhetoric itself has value when added to the discourse, even if the man himself did not mean it. Quotes are to follow:
For this nation was born in a revolution by We the People and premised on a revolutionary faith, that it is the people, the common man and woman, who make democracy work. And it is the calling of every generation to renew that revolution for their day. But in our time our revolutionary faith is faltering.
These are the people who explored a continent. Who built the railroads who opened the West. These are the workers whose labor launched the industrial revolution and whose ingenuity made the American economy the marvel of the world. These are the families who have rallied to this country's flag and every hour of danger and who bear the burden of defending our nation.
And America is a place of promise because in these hearts honor lives. But these working men and women are confronting crisis today and as they do so does our democracy. After years of sacrifice the great American middle is being pushed aside by a new arrogant aristocracy. The new aristocrats seek to remake society in their own image to engineer an economy that works for the elite but few wells to fashion a culture that is dominated by their own preferences. When they think of helping their fellow citizens they think of making everyone else more like themselves.
Now Washington has just gone along. This town has embraced a politics of elite values and elite ambition rather than building opportunities to thrive in the great and broad American middle. This has left middle America the great American middle class under siege, battling the loss of respect and work. The decline of home and family. An epidemic of loneliness and despair. This is the crisis of our time. I'm afraid you wouldn't know it, to listen to the talk of this town much of the time as the crisis deepens. The political establishment looks the other way rehearsing and rehashing the political debates of 30 or 40 years ago. But there is no time for that any longer. The 21st century is upon us and the great struggle of this century can no longer wait. The crisis that we face goes to the heart of our revolution.
But if you want a life built around the place where you grew up, if your ambition is not to start a tech business but to join the family business to serve in the PTA or in your local church, well you're told that you're not a success and you're told that you're on your own. This is no accident. The people who make the rules now, who run our large corporations, who set the tone for our popular culture, all belong to the same class. This economy has been their economy. They made it for themselves but in places like the one where I grew up in middle Missouri good paying jobs that you can raise a family on are going away. The jobs go overseas or south of the border or two cities on the coasts and once vibrant towns decline, taking with them the network of schools and neighborhoods and churches that make up middle class life.
But the crisis reaches well beyond economics. The message that Washington has sent our whole society is loud and clear. Our elites are the people who matter and those who aspire to join them. Everyone else is unimportant or backwards. And millions of Americans are left with the sense that the people who run this country view them with nothing but contempt and value them as nothing but consumers. These trends tear at our country's social fabric and they undermine our common ethic of citizenship. Because being a free person being an American isn't just about what you can buy. It's about the pride that comes in supporting a family. It's about contributing something of worth to your community.
It's about respect, and too many Americans haven't been getting it. They're certainly not getting it from our cultural elite: the media, Hollywood, academia relentlessly press their values and their priorities on the rest of us. They advocate liberation from the duties of family and tradition. They look down on the plain virtues of patriotism self-giving and faith. They idealize fame and preach self-realization, through consuming more stuff, and as they do they assault the foundations of the great American middle class. We shouldn't be surprised then that the epidemic of loneliness and despair that is spreading across working communities fewer young people are getting married or starting families. Drug addiction is surging the opioid menace has ravaged every sector every age group every geography of working people.