NGV Friday: State of the Union – Where Do We Stand?

By Nathan Smith and Christopher Goodrich

The 2018 State of the Union address has undoubtedly summed up the presidency of Donald Trump.  Not only was it the longest one in recent memory, it was probably the boldest and most memorable in recent memory; surely for decades.

Trump promised to deliver a unifying message.  Whether it was for the rich or poor, black or white, citizen or non-citizen, he exulted some of America’s core values and principles in this address.  Whether you are a supporter or a critic, there was something for you in this speech, and this worked undoubtedly in his favor.

He started out the speech with a message of hope and optimism for the American dream.  For the first time in almost a decade, the United States has seen an extended period of growth and low levels of unemployment under his presidency.  Huge multi-national corporations have pledged to invest hundreds of billions back into the United States economy.  From the coal industry to healthcare, he pledged to deregulate many markets within the U.S. economy to retain our competitive edge in an ever globalizing world.  And he did.  This culminated with passing what he called “the biggest tax cut we have ever seen in American history.”  He reaffirmed his commitment to the American middle class to see individual tax rates be lowered on families, small businesses, and corporations.  Americans will be able to decide in 2020 if this plan has come to fruition.

Trump took on (as he did in his last year’s address) a bipartisan approach to many issues Americans resonate with resolving.  He called for a bipartisan bill on rebuilding our infrastructure, “our roads, our hospitals, and our schools,” and doubled down once again on his commitment to American security, reorganizing our legal immigration system, and curbing illegal border crossings through the use of a border wall with Mexico.

His unpredictable and direct approach through the use of guests resonated with many Americans.  Our national security (which he and many felt have been put on the back burner by our politicians) was brought to the forefront in this address.  From the heartbreaking story of the two Long Island teenagers that lost their lives to illegal MS-13 immigrant high school students, to the valiant efforts of an ICE operative refusing to back down from his work in face of a target placed on his head, has likely ensured many of us that the fight to curb violence in our nation is not yet over.

Trump was careful not to use any condescending generalizations throughout his speech.  His goal was to seek unification and bipartisanship.  To end the toxic atmosphere that has been present in Washington for decades.

Those in the upper echelon of society and their cosmopolitan comedians did not take the same approach.  The Democratic members of Congress either boycotted the speech or showed great displeasure for many of his achievements.  They continued to remain in their close-minded echo chamber of ideas, excluding those who do not share the same viewpoints.

Host of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert, was especially inflammatory with his comments following the speech.  Week after week, he is consistent in his approach to “comedy”, seeking high ratings and pandering to his audience by focusing his comedic firepower on the president.  In his late night “response” to the speech, he mentioned Trump’s achievement in lowering the African-American unemployment rate to record levels.  This comment was followed by Colbert stating that there was another point in history where the African-American employment rate was at zero.  However, only half of the president’s supporters would support going to that point.  Colbert is clearly inferring that there are some supporters of the president that would prefer African-Americans to be in chains.  This popular accusation of racism of Trump and the Republican Party has been carelessly thrown around for the past decade.  Colbert’s disparaging comments do nothing to unify the “racial divide” in the nation, but instead legitimize a condescending generalization through comedy.

It is well recognized that the freedom to criticize our government and its leadership is a hallmark of this nation.  While he has the freedom to say this, his viewers should take those comments for what they are.  Demeaning, baseless, racist, and unintelligent are the words that describe these remarks.  Colbert’s comments may be able to slide, but people are not ignorant of what he is implying and seeking to promote.

The host did not experience any significant backlash from his comments.  Why shouldn’t he?  The press does a wonderfully thorough job in holding the president accountable for every remark he has given on race, ethnic groups, and other sensitive issues.  In contrast, late night comedians have been given a free pass to paint a wildly inaccurate picture of the president’s supporters.

This incident and the many other similar ones confirm the level of disparity between the president’s supporters and the elites that are determined to create his demise.  President Obama even stated that he wanted to make sure that the incoming president was given the best opportunity to succeed because a win for him was a win for us all.  Those from the upper-echelon of society, the late night hosts that pander to their opinions, and the Democratic leaders are only seeking to maximize their power.  They do not actually believe in protecting the interests of American workers, they will only seek to do what keep them in power.  If that means disconnecting from the views of their constituents and allowing dangerous immigration policies, they will gladly support that plan.

Contrary to their belief, Trump’s message was wholeheartedly about unification.  He was not spewing “racist bigotry”, making broad generalizations, or seeking to marginalize different groups.  Instead for a night, he decided to take a step back from cutthroat politics to make an effort to appeal to all Americans, regardless of their background.

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