President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union Address to the 116th United States Congress on Tuesday after a week’s delay due to the partial government shutdown. Though it’s unlikely anyone remembers what was discussed during last year’s address, the SOTU has become a lightning rod for policy debate — for one news cycle, at least. Nevertheless, here are some important 2019 SOTU moments we’ll all soon forget:
During his second run at this gratuitous event, Trump hit all of his usual notes. He touted the economic boom occurring under his administration, citing record low unemployment, high wages, and high workforce participation as results of recent GOP tax cuts and deregulation. He also praised the U.S.’s powerful military and growing middle class as symbols of his administration’s success over the past two years.
One of the repeated themes of Trump’s address was his call for unity and bipartisanship among Democrats and Republicans. He called on Congress to “govern not as two parties, but as one nation” and to usher in a “new era of cooperation” for the country. Perhaps the best moment of Trump’s speech was the reaction to his statement, “The state of our union is strong,” which received bipartisan applause. Both political parties joined together, multiple times, to chant “U-S-A,” sounding more like a high school student section than a room of stodgy politicians. To close, Trump optimistically stated the country’s best days are still ahead of it, as long as the U.S. is willing to still believe in American exceptionalism.
But the President was not always positive. He condemned the Democrats for their “ridiculous partisan investigation,” referencing special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump, and the left’s disgusting support of late-term abortion.. He called on Congress to help “build a culture that cherishes innocent life.” He touched on other policy issues as well, asking for bipartisan support on the more than 300 judicial nominees not yet confirmed by the Senate, the passage of the new USMCA trade deal, school choice, and immigration reform.
Trump’s second SOTU perfectly encapsulated his career as a politician. He proudly and eloquently proclaimed, “America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion and control. We were born free and we will stay free…America will never be a socialist country.” He pledged his support to blue-collar Americans, promising to use tariffs to protect their jobs — which sounds a lot like government coercion and control. He touted the staples of his administration: a strong economy, strict border policy, bold foreign policy, and increased support of the military. And in classic SOTU style, Trump, like his predecessors, proudly introduced some of the most outstanding men and women of the U.S., peppered throughout the gallery of the Capitol building. This was more than just political expediency: The recognition of Holocaust survivors, WW2 veterans, cancer survivors, and Apollo astronauts was one of the most moving and inspiring aspects of the address.
In reality, the expected, unquestionable applause from Republicans, or the smug grins and “principled” sitting (Rosa Park-esq, if you ask me) of Democrats doesn’t change anything. The political game in Washington, D.C. will continue as always. Gridlock and partisan fighting will continue, and the 2020 election cycle will ramp up as expected. But hey, at least our “leaders” got to have their night of pomp and circumstance. So, here’s to another 51 weeks of not caring about the SOTU and hunkering back down into our ideological bunkers.
Erik Halvorson is a senior studying Economics.