In a land where every person is supposed to be equal, the fact that one man stands in front of the country each year to be lauded for the accomplishments of each individual is stupid and imperialistic. It gives the office of the Presidency the appearance of Monarchy and diminishes the accomplishments of the individual Americans who made the real difference. Since it seems America will never return to a letter from the President to Congress about the State of the Union, it seems necessary to evaluate the speech as it is.
This is going to be a review of President Trump’s speech in light of this reality. While I would rather have no State of the Union Address, it is a part of the government we have, so it must be discussed as such. With that in mind, I’ll be discussing the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the whole night from Trump’s speech to the audience reactions to the rebuttals.
We are going to start with the good parts of the speech first. The first good part of the speech was Trump’s overall performance. He stayed on script and appeared presidential and put-together. This wasn’t a campaign speech,and he recognized that. He didn’t just play to his base, but spoke to the good economy, American response to disasters and the need to be Americans rather than partisans. He extended olive branches to Democrats with policies that they usually endorse, such as infrastructure and leave. All of this made Trump look good.
The best part of the speech was the people who were in the balcony for Trump to call out (admittedly as political pawns). The heroes and victims that were named and honored show what America really did last year. They were:
- A cop who didn’t leave a heroin addict to destroy her child’s life
- A man who escaped North Korea on crutches and now helps others do the same
- First responders to disasters
- Parents of the victims of horrific crimes
This was the Good of the speech. This reminded Americans that it is the people who make America what it is, not the government. The only reason that government should exist is to allow amazing people like these to do these amazing things. For the first time since Trump came to office, he had a chance to talk to the American people without the media distorting what’s really happening: ISIS is nearly destroyed, REAL job growth, REAL tax cuts, deregulation, good judges, better immigration policy. And he made full use of his chance.
The bad really fell on the side of the Democrats. They have made their party platform nothing but hating Trump, therefore compromising the values they preach. Traditionally, they are for the government spending on aid and infrastructure, but couldn’t even clap or stand for these topics when Trump advocated for them.
I want my audience to know that I lean to the Conservative/Libertarian side of politics, but this is not a partisan criticism of the Democrats, just bad politicking. Imagine Republicans not applauding Obama if he said he was going to reduce gun control and taxes: it’s stupid. I would be upset if that happened, and if democrat voters aren’t enraged by their Representatives sitting for unifying themes, their party may be in its death throes.
Trump did have some bad in his speech as well. His speech was long, which really made it a tough thing to watch and stay engaged. The other bad he had was advocating for some of the democrat policies above. I don’t think the government should be involved in infrastructure, but that’s not the first thing I’d attack because many Conservatives are in favor of that class of government spending. His tangent on paid leave was unnecessary, but time will tell what comes of this.
The Democrats took the Ugly as well, trotting out Joe Kennedy III for the rebuttal. In reality, the only thing dumber than the State of the Union is the rebuttal. No one ever has had a good rebuttal. This was especially true for Kennedy as he looked awful, sounded stupid and was drooling throughout his speech. It was horrible. He was positioned with a broken-down car in the background, which begged the question: Which Kennedy has had the worst luck with cars- John, Ted or Joe?
The real issue is his speech showed the lack of commitment to principles of the Democrats in response to what was an out-of-character, principled speech from Trump (who usually does rely on rhetoric and name-calling). Joe, a rich, white, straight, cisgendered man, from one of the most powerful families in American history- gave a speech about intersectionality and the working man. I think these talking points are incorrect and unprincipled, but if that is your political platform, you should stick to it. The Democrats have a platform and a brand for their party built off of that, and no one in their party matches that, which shows how insincere they are.
The idea of the State of the Union is stupid, but if it is going to happen, the people involved need to be on top of their game in politicking. If there’s winners and losers, then Trump won in a landslide and the Democrats shot themselves in the foot with the starting gun.
But the real takeaway should be that the real stars of America are the people in the balcony. You and I are the people who make America what it is. It was individuals who came together in the Revolution, marched for Civil Rights, respond to emergencies, innovate and create new opportunities and take care of ourselves and our communities. We are the center of the American project, not the Presidency, Congress, the government or anything you see on the news. The citizens of America shined during this State of the Union because we are the foundation of the country, not the government, and we should act like it in our everyday lives.
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