"We the people" are the first words of the Constitution.
The words also capture the populist vision for America's future that President Trump outlined in his inaugural address.
The speech was an us-versus-them oration that pitted the new president and the public against Washington's political establishment that, as the words were spoken, sat in silence surrounding the man who uttered them.
Republicans versus Democrats was an expired battle, Trump argued. The real battle was between the powerful and the powerless, the politicians and the people. Trump promised that his presidency would restore power to its proper place among the people, who would "never be ignored again."
Whereas President Obama, in his second inaugural address four years ago, called for a more robust role for the federal government, Trump promised, "We are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people."
This re-transfer is sorely needed. Five of the six richest counties in the country are within commuting distance of the U.S. Capitol. Thousands of federal workers, lobbyists, lawyers, government contractors and others live in the capital enriching themselves at the expense of taxpayers. Trump has staked his claim as the champion of outsiders. Whether he can fulfill his promises is another matter.
He mentioned factory workers who had lost their jobs, idled manufacturing plants, a forgotten middle class, "mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities" and "struggling families all across the land."
America faces no existential threat, as it arguably did in 2009, when financial panic was at its peak. But there are many problems that require Trump's immediate attention. Military veterans are treated as second-class citizens when they return from the battlefield. Race relations are, in some aspects, at their lowest point for a generation. America's foreign policy is aimless and it's leadership either mocked or despised, or both. Its finances are in disarray.
Trump echoed his campaign stump speech by promising to secure the nation's borders, to destroy Islamic terrorism, to repatriate jobs from overseas and to rebuild infrastructure. A recent poll found that these are among the public's most urgent priorities.
Trump's most emphatic statement was his declaration that "from this day forward, it's going to be only America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and families."
This statement triggered the commentariat in various manifestations of apoplexy. But for the rest of the country, it's a statement of common sense, and an unjaundiced view should acknowledge that it does not necessarily announce a withdrawal from the rest of the world. A president from outside the elite class is a president who sees the government as the servant of its people.
Trump faces not only political and media establishments that loathe him and plan to thwart him. He has also set expectations exceedingly high by overpromising, and adding "I will never ever let you down." To be fair, overpromising was also a fault of his predecessor, who urged followers to believe that his election would mark the moment when "the planet began to heal ... when we ended war and secured our nation," etc.
Trump will find governing far harder than campaigning, but to his credit, his first speech as president closed off excuses for failure. "The time for empty talk is over," he said, and "now arrives the hour of action." It won't take long before we learn whether his actions can live up to the promises with which he conquered Washington.