Tuesday night’s State of the Union delivered one of the most polarizing events in Donald Trump’s presidency thus far.
I found myself surprised and hopeful and in a mere minute, disappointed again. I will admit that I went into the night with the lowest of expectations, given Trump’s previous speeches.
The speech had no shortage of American patriotism. It appealed to the church-going, gun-loving conservative citizens of middle America: the type of people who proudly tout the bright red Make America Great Again hats and call Trump the best thing since Reagan.
As Trump introduced and told the stories of several honorable guests who were in attendance, the appeal of ethos was in full swing. Patriotism rang through the walls of the chamber and our living rooms. Trump’s State of the Union portrayed him as the president that Republicans wish he was.
I did find myself disappointed in the lack of discussion in topics that are important to me: particularly education and the environment (don’t get me started on “beautiful clean coal”). However, my main issue was Trump’s lack of actual gusto for unity.
I knew that this calm and collected president would return to the same loony, hot-headed man on Twitter. He spent a year of presidency attacking and insulting the media, foreign countries, and individuals. How can he speak of unity when his presidency has made our country the most divided its been in recent years?
His speech relied on the same tactic he used during the election trail: fear. Particularly on immigration, his every word was calculated to scare people into an aggressive stance on the matter.
As American diplomat, author, and president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard N. Haasss (R) tweeted, “just once it would be nice to hear this president acknowledge all that immigrants have done over the centuries to make this country great and portray immigration as something other than a security threat, which on balance it is not.” His comments about violent street gang MS-13 being connected to immigrants from South America is dangerous, as it is “fake news.”
Here’s my message to the president: actions speak louder than words. We will not forget your statements about Africa and women and white supremacists. Please extend the olive branch to the people who you have attacked or ignored. Open your mind, your heart, your arms and your ears. You’ll be surprised to see how unified we can become.