INGRASSIA: Remembering President Trump’s Stirring Independence Day Speech At Mount Rushmore – Four Years Later

President Trump delivers remarks at Mt. Rushmore on July 4, 2020

Four years ago, America was being ransacked by Antifa and BLM from coast to coast, bringing cities like Portland and Minneapolis to near-ruin in what were some of the most destructive riots and darkest months in our nation’s history.

The agitators belonged to the Far Left but had the support of the mainstream Democratic Party – including Joe Biden, whose political philosophy aligned with the rioters in significant ways.

The goal of the riots was always to “fundamentally transform America,” in the portentous words of Barack Obama.  In other words, destroy the best of our national heritage; the monuments dedicated to our Founding Fathers and past heroes, and everything that once made America great, its Constitution and commitment to human liberty and the rule of law, above all.

It was against that backdrop of national pandemonium that President Trump gave some of his most stirring remarks of his entire presidency, which lifted the morale of a country that many seriously doubted would survive beyond the summer months.

In sharp contrast with the tear-it-down nihilism that defines the Progressive Left and has informed so much of the policies and lawfare we have observed during the Biden years, President Trump reinvigorated the spirit of our nation by recommitting to our founding principles.

While the subject matter of the speech was superficially a dedication to the four great statesmen whose faces adorn Mount Rushmore – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt – the President’s deeper message was to celebrate our history using the achievements of its four greatest heroes.

In this regard, the speech served two purposes.  The first was to depict a positive vision for America’s future, by paying respectful tribute to its past greatness.  As the President himself said, “[n]o nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America.”

Rather than creating a place of oppression and evil, the achievement of 1776 was, in the President’s moving words, “the culmination of thousands of years of western civilization and the triumph not only of spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason.”

In other words, America stood as the apotheosis of enlightened achievement coupled with Biblical morality.  It was the only nation founded on explicitly rational principles, which made possible two and a half centuries of technological, scientific, and political innovation – innovation that “unleashed the greatest leap of human advancement the world has ever known.”

The greatest of these achievements, of course, is our freedom – which the Left has attempted to topple with blind rage and envy.  In the four years since, we have even better knowledge of where all that rage and hatred leads to: the weaponization of our justice system and the political persecution of President Donald Trump, which has been nonstop in the years since he departed office.

The second purpose of the speech was to espouse a positive policy agenda for the nation.  President Trump used the four national heroes on Mount Rushmore as a frame of reference to highlight his own legacy, adeptly situating that moment in time within the broader cultural tapestry of our nation’s storied history.

In doing this, President Trump demonstrated how Make America Great Again was in the right because it was the cultural descendant of the American Revolution; not the “left-wing cultural revolution” still burning cities down as the President spoke these words “designed to overthrow” it.

President Trump cleverly took virtues from each of his four greatest predecessors in order to reignite a movement that was depleted on morale and provide a roadmap for navigating out of those turbulent waters.

In describing the Father of our Country, George Washington, President Trump noted “when defeat seemed absolutely certain, he took what remained of his forces on a daring nighttime crossing of the Delaware River.”  Because of this bravery, by the next morning Washington’s troops “seized victory at Trenton … forcing the surrender of the most powerful empire on the planet[.]”

On Thomas Jefferson, this nation’s third president, President Trump described him “as the author of American freedom.”  As the writer of the Declaration of Independence, “one of the greatest treasures of human history,” Jefferson laid down the moral and philosophical underpinnings for American freedom, including “a model for our cherished First Amendment.”

No explanation is needed for why the First Amendment is of critical importance in today’s times: our fundamental rights to speak, assemble, and worship have weathered relentless attacks by the Left – all of which have only escalated in the intervening four years, from the crackdown on January 6th demonstrators to the suppression of conservative voices on Big Tech .

The latter case resulted in President Trump’s ban from every major social media platform for simply contesting election fraud in the aftermath of the November 2020 election.  Hence why the preservation of Jefferson’s handiwork – his professional and personal commitment to human freedom – remains of utmost importance to us.

The last two presidents honored on Mount Rushmore – Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt – each confronted crises that parallel our own.  Roosevelt embodied the spirit of American exceptionalism.

Against the spirit of self-loathing and national desecration constantly promoted by the Left, President Trump aptly underscored Roosevelt’s “unbridled confidence of our national culture and identity,” which is sorely needed today.  He went on to describe Roosevelt as seeing “the towering grandeur of America’s mission in the world,” which he “pursued … with overwhelming energy and zeal.”

Lincoln endured a constitutional crisis of a magnitude that threatened to tear our republic by the seams. Much like the ongoing strife that President Trump has stewarded our country through, Lincoln similarly “led the country through the darkest hours of American history, giving every ounce of strength that he had to ensure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people did not perish from this Earth.”

Doubtlessly, President Trump must have felt the gravity of those words on a personal level, knowing that the fate of America depends, much like in Lincoln’s time, on his ability to navigate us out of our own national crisis, where government of the people similarly hangs in the balance.

Indeed, in a related context, it was Lincoln who also offered these prescient words: “whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last.”

Like Lincoln, President Trump also had some prophetic words of his own.  Towards the end of his speech, he seemed to forecast the weaponization of our criminal justice system which has targeted political dissidents of all kinds, from President Trump down to the J6 demonstrators, in the four years since.

First, President Trump condemned “the radical ideology attacking our country” that “advances under the banner of social justice.” “But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society.”

He then predicted how this subversive ideology would destroy America: “It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance, and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of repression, domination, and exclusion.”

President Trump’s resounding vision for America was to “declare that the United States … is the most just and exceptional nation ever to exist on Earth.”  He sharply contrasted this with the vision of the Left: “their goal is not a better America, their goal is the end of America.”

After naming a litany of other American heroes, from every walk of life – statesmen to military leaders to sports heroes to entertainment superstars – President Trump ended his spirited remarks with a promise: “the best is yet to come.”

Though it may have been four years longer than expected, let us end this Fourth of July with the hope that the worst is behind us, and while we are far from victory, perhaps we can be slightly more optimistic – and a little more certain – than we were at this same moment four years ago, knowing that, come November – aided by God’s good grace – the best now is truly yet to come.

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Paul Ingrassia is a Constitutional Scholar; a two-time Claremont Fellow, and is on the Board of Advisors of the New York Young Republican Club and the Italian American Civil Rights League. He writes a widely read Substack that is regularly re-truthed by President Trump. Follow him on X @PaulIngrassia, Substack, Truth Social, Instagram, and Rumble.

You can email Paul Ingrassia here, and read more of Paul Ingrassia's articles here.


Thanks for sharing!