President Trump delivers his first State of the Union, showcasing fake compassion and discriminatory policies against immigrants. Is this America we know and hope for?
The highly coveted State of the Union, historically proven to be one of the most anticipated events in governmental history, started at 9 PM EST on Tuesday, January 30, 2017. In his first ever State of the Union as President of the United States, President Trump spoke at length of the heroes, the ordinary Americans, as well as servicemen and women who risked their lives in the height of Hurricane Harvey, the Las Vegas shooting, among other disasters that wreaked havoc across the U.S. this year.
Promise of bipartisanship in Congress
Following his appraisal of Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was shot and was back at work three months later, Congress rose to their feet for a standing ovation. Trump then thanked the Capitol police, doctors, and hospital staff that helped save his life in the aftermath of the shooting. He swiftly transitioned to his next big, overarching point, his emphasis and hope for the bipartisanship in Congress.
Speaking to the outpouring of support after the shooting, Trump said, “we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people”. The American government having been criticised for being the most divided it’s ever been, Trump called upon his government to, “set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.” Whether or not Trump will act upon this promise and make a valiant effort to include Democrats on policies going forward, time will tell, though there is much skepticism that he will be successful.
Economic and patriotic success
A large portion of the address was focussed on the Trump administration’s economic successes over the past year, including the “massive tax cuts [that] provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.” He spoke about the decreasing unemployment rate, and that the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 45 years. At several points, his comments were met with a standing ovation.
His pro-American patriotic rhetoric was neither absent or lacking from the speech, with continued emphasis on the significance to being American as defined by his understanding of what it means to be an American, and all things symbolic of in his view, America’s “great”-ness.
Jab At NFL players who kneeled
The American Flag, the military, and the importance of “civic duty” were prevalent in his speech, but to a far more moderate degree than some of his more impassioned speeches. However, at one point, Trump specifically mentioned “why we stand for the national anthem” – a clear jab at the several NFL players who have kneeled during the playing of the national anthem as an act of protest, primarily against police brutality and racial discrimination in the U.S.
In an extensive address to the very controversial immigration policies put forth by his administration, President Trump said that “struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.” As always, Trump stressed that the U.S. “is a compassionate nation”, but that this compassion is strongest for “America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities”. This exclusive compassion is what has put Trump in such a hot-seat with minority groups, to begin with – it often appears that Trump and his administration reserve their compassion for those with the most privilege.
Trump used an opportunity to outline the four pillars of his proposed immigrant restrictions. The first pillar is a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, on a merit-based system. ( i.e. “those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States”. )The second is focussed on improving border security by increasing defensive measures. The third is ending the visa lottery system, which, according to Trump, grants “green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people”. The last pillar focuses on efforts to end chain migration, which in reality means an attempt at preventing family members to be united in America.
What really is the state of the union?
The State of the Union serves a practical purpose – to inform and update the public on the President and government’s state of politics. However, this year’s address will leave many spectators concerned if the anti-immigrant stance is really the state of the union? Is this America we know and hope for?