Addressing the State of the Union

Solomon Katz

President Trump gave his second State of the Union Address on Tuesday. As an informed student body, it is essential to look and understand what our current president has deemed important. And while many of us automatically criticize, if we do so indiscriminately, the construct of the complaint loses its power. So when we look at Trump’s State of the Union Address, let us criticize where its faults and look at the rest with objective eyes that don’t blind us to its positive aspects.

The speech followed a government shutdown during which Trump stated that he wanted a budget resolution including a plan for the infamous wall.

Trump made a variety of claims during the speech, detailing plans for the future and  tackling issues like the spread of HIV, new infrastructure projects, and high price  of prescription drugs. I commend these initiatives because of their utilitarian value. Not only do these plans fall into the sphere of Democratic platforms, but setting a fixed price on drugs has created backlash from the Republican party. To skip over this deviation from the partyline like it is nothing would be naive.

Trump also made claims about his  past two years in office during the speech; many major news outlets are jumping at the chance to prove him wrong. If one were to go to the New York Times website, where many of us watched the speech, for a fact check analysis, you would see a list of statements by Trump followed by the sentence “This is true.” or “This is false.” in bold. To the New York Times’ credit, they give a more detailed description underneath, but for many people who get their news online, the bold writing is all that is read. That black and white analysis leaves out the context necessary to make accurate assessments. Others make the mistake of using the Facebook account NowThis as their means of getting a recap of the event because it is a quick video with good production value, but outlets like these also give easy answers without any additional description underneath. For example, one claim Trump made was that 5.3 million jobs have been created under his presidency. The exact number is actually 4.87 million jobs, which allowed outlets to put the word false at the forefront, which the set up viewers to miss the sentiment of the statement. The economy did grow at a peak rate of 4.2% during 2018, a rate higher than before, and actions by the Trump administration such as sizable cuts to corporate tax should not be overlooked as unrelated factors.

Okay, I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so here I go: the wall. As Trump approached the topic of the wall, he made claims that correlated undocumented immigrants with violent crime, false and inherently racist statements. Politicians often use sophistry in an attempt to evoke emotions that will warrant support. Trump is not wrong when he states that in the past, border security has been a bipartisan issue. Unfortunately, Trump’s insistence on a wall above all makes productive bipartisan discussion impossible.

  A major theme throughout the speech was bipartisanship. Pelosi applauded sarcastically at the notion, which has gone viral. But just like in the Obama administration, when Democrats refused to work with Republicans, nothing gets done. In this case, the stalemate is causing government shutdowns of historic proportions. Maybe if Trump moved away from his divisive wall rhetoric, it would create an opening for actual bipartisanship, and Democrats would be forced to address the legitimate issues surrounding undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, like Pelosi, the entire internet scoffs at the possibility of bipartisanship.