Reacting to Trump’s State of the Union
SOTU was Trump's chance to open new cooperation in Washington - it didn't happen.
February 21, 2019
On Feb. 5, President Trump delivered his State of the Union address, seemingly closing the door on an incredibly tumultuous and divisive month following the Democrats’ take over of the House of Representatives.
The month leading up to the SOTU was overflowing with partisanship as newly appointed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took a stand against Trump and his unreasonable demands for a border wall. This led to a tense government shutdown, one which lasted 35 days and became the longest in history. At the end of the shutdown, Trump agreed to a deal, ending the shutdown and was invited by Pelosi to deliver his address, in the process suffering a major defeat in the eyes of his hardcore supporters.
, alleviate some toxicity and find some compromise and unity — healing a divided country. Unfortunately, that is not what transpired.
The speech which ended up being the third longest in history was deemed by many critics to be mostly an incohesive jumble of platitudes tossed together to appease the mainstream media. Both Democratic and Republican political figures were concerned with the lack of substance, passion and even truthfulness in the speech, with some like CNN’s Van Jones even calling it “psychotically incoherent.”
The disproportionality of time dedicated to different subjects was startling as well. Specifically ironic was the fact that the bulk of the speech was dedicated to immigration. Trump didn’t ease up on the border wall issue as a threat of another government shutdown loomed, despite offering a disingenuous one-liner made about how we “can break decades of political stalemate” just minutes prior.
Trump said “we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” but clearly, the only thing on his mind was more partisanship.
Trump’s appeal to the common man seemed to work, however, because polling after the SOTU showed that 76 percent of viewers approved of what was said. Within days of the speech, polls indicated the president’s approval rating went up three percent following a similar trend from previous administrations. The address also posted impressive viewing numbers and received copious amounts of attention from social media and mainstream news outlets.
One of the most memorable moments was when Trump polished off his “plea” for unity, explaining how the cooperation can only come if the investigations into his administration stop. House Democrats responded by launching another investigation into Trump’s tax returns the next day.
Another noteworthy moment in the speech was when Trump claimed the U.S. would be at war with North Korea, had anyone been in office besides himself. I may have heard audible exasperated sighs in the audience at this point, across both sides of the aisle. Of course, the image that will go into the history books to commemorate the 2019 State of the Union will be that of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi clapping with justified sarcasm over Trump’s shoulder as he spoke about partisanship.
The day after the address, Americans were asked to react to the speech in a poll sent by the Trump administration. The first question asked supporters to rate the speech with one of three provided options; “good, great, or historic.” The biased provided responses shed light on the delusion that Trump is alleviating the toxic bipartisanship in Washington.
Reach Vadim at [email protected]