President Donald Trump started his speech with an unifying message for all Americans and some commentators concluded that this was his best political speech so far. Of course, other media in support of the opposition has found many faults in the way it was presented, as boring, divisive and lacking facts. The first lady, Melania Trump received standing ovations and her guests brought many emotional moments that captivated the audience on both sides of the aisle. The President sought to reach across the aisle but, as expected, the opposition party sat on their hands.
President Trump began his remarks with strong overtures to bipartisanship and American solidarity. He recognized the heroism of our veterans, the virtue of our ideals, and the promise of our future. He also emphasized many accomplishments – from rising wages to lower reliance on federal benefits and record low minority unemployment.
When the President called for Congress to move forward, and reject investigation in favor of legislation, Speaker Pelosi scowled and the Democrats in her caucus followed suit.
The President issued his first call to action for Congress – to resolve the outstanding government funding fight and secure our porous Southern Border. Republicans were quick to applaud the call to put coyotes, drug smugglers, and human traffickers out of business, but Congressional Democrats were much more muted. The Democrats even audibly groaned and scoffed when the President promised to protect the United States from future illegal immigrant caravans.
The President called for greater inspections for drugs at our ports of entry, more staff for CBP and ICE, and a ‘border barrier’ that, he noted, many Congressional Democrats had voted for in the past. After outlining the effectiveness of the border policies in San Diego and El Paso, the Republican side of the Chamber erupted in applause, but Democrats remained silent. No issue of the night more clearly illustrated the divide between the parties than the President’s call to protect our country’s borders.
There was a glimmer of positivity and unity when the President recognized the great strides being made by women during his administration. He stated that the female labor force is the largest it’s ever been, wages are rising, and more women serve in Congress than ever before in American history. From Speaker Pelosi to freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Democratic women in the chamber warmed to the President’s speech and shared in celebrating these accomplishments.
From trade renegotiations and foreign policy to infrastructure investment and healthcare, the applause continued to split almost perfectly along partisan lines.
The President delivered an exceptional second State of the Union, and Congressional Democrats provided a perfect foil. He sought compromise and proposed actionable areas for bipartisanship. His leadership was resoundingly welcomed, and Americans of all political stripes agreed that he delivered an extraordinary speech. Unfortunately, the Democrats, on primetime national television, didn’t take the President’s olive branch.
The 116th Congress opened with the divisive government shutdown, and after the State of the Union we can only hope that the two Parties will leave the pettiness out of politics, rise above the political fight and start legislating for the benefit of all Americans.