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President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address last night. His speech couldn’t have been more positive for the country.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Party clearly demonstrated their political partisanship and personal animus towards this President all night long.
The Dems refused to applaud or otherwise positively acknowledge even the most positive developments involving programs and people they normally claim as their own.
This was clearly a victorious evening for a President who has been repeatedly attacked by those Democrats and their liberal media arm throughout his first year in office.
The economy and domestic policy. Defense and international relations. The President touched on all of the hot-button topics of interest to Americans today.
He began early in his speech by going over some of the tough challenges faced by the nation over this past year. The mass shooting in Las Vegas and the shooting at a Congressional softball game. Natural disasters in which “We endured floods and fires and storms.”
To highlight these challenges, the President presented and told the stories of specific individuals.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert worked for 18 hours straight during Hurricane Harvey to help save 40 lives. Firefighter David Dahlberg rescued 60 children trapped at a summer camp during the California wildfires.
Congressman Steve Scalise, who the President christened as “the legend from Louisiana” to roaring applause, fought hard to recover from gunshot wounds at that Congressional softball game, returning to work just a few months later.
“Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.”
The President then segued into that seizing of opportunity in the economy: 2.4 million new jobs created. Rising wages. Low unemployment, including historic lows for African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Massive individual and business tax cuts. A record-breaking stock market.
“This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream. So to every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.”
The President used that positive statement to move through a couple moments of open patriotism. He emphasized a love for the American flag, the pledge of allegiance, and our national anthem.
He acknowledged America’s military and law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line daily for all of our citizens.
To help highlight the importance of patriotism, the President presented the story of Preston Sharp. The 12-year old California boy noticed that flags were missing from the graves of veterans. He began a movement that spread across the country, resulting in flags placed at the graves of more than 40,000 deceased American heroes.
“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust.”
This line as much as any that the President delivered all night perfectly highlights the differences between America’s modern political parties.
Democrats believe that government knows best, and want to regulate our lives through its bureaucracies. Republicans believe in unleashing the power of private industry and individual freedom.
Also, Republicans regularly fight to acknowledge the central role of God in our lives. Not just our individual lives, but also in the collective life of the American nation.
The President then moved through a list of accomplishments in areas vitally important to his base. The appointment of originalist judges, highlighted by SCOTUS Justice Neil Gorsuch. Fighting to protect religious liberty and the 2nd Amendment. Reform of the Veterans Administration.
He then rattled off a litany of achievements in various industries, including the automotive industry and energy independence.
The President then made an emotional plea and promise involving prescription drugs. The plea was on behalf of Americans seeking alternatives when suffering from terminal disease.
“People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the “right to try.””
As emotional as that plea was, his promise to reduce costs was equally forceful: “…I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices WILL come down.“
This led the President into one of his leading programs in the coming year, infrastructure improvements. He called on a congress to undertake a massive $1.5 trillion program to improve the nation’s “…roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways…“
He then proceeded to make a statement that once again highlighted the difference between the two parties: “We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.“
Every action taken by the President and the Republican-controlled congress reveals their belief in empowering individuals to earn their way to prosperity, rather than relying on government handouts to permanently enslave them.
Still, the President is not without heart for those struggling. He called for increased investment in vocational schools, paid family leave, and a second chance for certain inmates through prison reform.
And then President Trump moved into security and defense, both at home and abroad. He spoke of the importance of securing the southern border, highlighted by introducing the parents of two Long Island teenage girls murdered by the notorious MS-13 gang.
Turning the spotlight squarely on to his Democratic Party critics with he issue of the so-called “dreamers”, he reiterated the over-arching theme of his Presidency: America First.
“My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.”
The President then presented a four-pillared immigration plan that was led by a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants. The other three pillars involved building the southern border wall, ending the visa lottery program, and ending chain migration.
While many on the far right will not like the idea of citizenship for the “dreamers”, the fact remains that the immigration issue will never be resolved without bipartisan cooperation.
This olive branch to Democrats is accompanied long-term solutions to help keep the problem from developing again. This would be accomplished by enacting the other three pillars.
President Trump then called on full funding for our American military, including modernizing our nuclear arsenal “making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.“
The President then highlighted the success of the American military over this past year in nearly destroying ISIS. He introduced Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck, who saved the life of CPO Kenton Stacy.
The two soldiers had been working to clear buildings which had been rigged with bombs by ISIS, in order that civilians could safely return to those homes, schools, and hospitals. An explosion in a booby-trapped building left Stacy fighting for his life, and Peck’s actions saved him.
“Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.”
This statement led the President into an announcement to reverse a dangerous process entered into by the Obama administration. President Trump signed an order to keep the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open, hinting that Gitmo can expect more detainees in the future.
The President then spoke of his formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He asked congress to fix the Iran nuclear deal, and mentioned increased sanctions on dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.
Introducing the parents of Otto Warmbier as “powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world“, the President moved on to North Korean aggression and provocations.
“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”
He further took a slap at the United Nations and challenged congress “…to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.”
As his address drew towards a close, President Trump dropped in a reference to his ongoing campaign slogan in the following statement.
“Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again.”
As he moved through his election campaign and first year in office, President Donald Trump pledged to “Make America Great Again”. In his address, the President specifically called on Congress to take the following actions:
- empower Cabinet Secretaries to empower good workers and remove those who fail
- give terminally ill patients a chance to try experimental drugs right here in America
- produce a major $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill with state/local partnerships and streamlined permits
- close immigration loopholes and support his Four Pillars program described previously
- end the defense sequester, fully funding our military
- empower our military, law enforcement, and intelligence officers to detain terrorists
- pass legislation to ensure our tax dollars only go to foreign governments friendly to America
- address flaws in the Iran nuclear deal
It would be a challenge to find fault in much of this message. Yet when the President look out on the Democrats sitting over on the right from his vantage point, he rarely found applause, and even less often received a standing ovation, things that happened numerous times with his Republican colleagues.
For example, most of the Democrats refused to applaud the 12-year old boy who inspired the flag recognition program for brave deceased veterans, or the parents of the two girls murdered by MS-13.
They even refused to applaud the lowest unemployment figures in history for African-Americans and Hispanic Americans, supposedly some of their base constituency.
At one point, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was even seen glancing around at her colleagues, apparently to ensure that none of them were responding positively to the President’s message.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was caught rising to applaud once. As he rose, he looked around and saw that none of his colleagues were doing the same, and he quickly caught himself and sat down again.
This is the problem with American politics today. Our supposed “leaders” cannot even set aside their political partisanship and personal animus for recognition of fundamental humanity. As long those such as Pelosi remain in leadership roles, and others like Manchin remain fearful of displaying any independence whatsoever, then the problems within our political house will never be resolved.
Unless you are nothing more than one of those partisan political opponents and/or you hold a personal grudge against President Trump, it would be hard for you to argue that his State of the Union address proved that he is doing just what he promised – he is making America great again.