For those who love President Donald Trump, his first State of the Union Address remains an affirmation of the reasons why they voted for the man. Rick Santorum, not the president’s favorite person by far said it was a noteworthy address. It, “is different in that it is laced throughout with narratives.
Not just a policy address, but interweaving individual Americans into the story.”
For those who despise or are otherwise unenthusiastic about his presidency, Trump’s first state of the Union Address is yet another reason why they did not vote for the man. As Ana Navarro said afterword, “I was unmoved by all of it. Meaningless. Like listening to him read from my car’s owner’s manual telling me how to operate the sound system. Made me sleepy.”
Thus you can say Trump failed at his stated intention to unify the country during his first State of the Union Address. But it was a mighty mountain to climb for Trump. While he told network anchors in a lunch he had with them prior to the State of the Union how he wanted to unify the country, he also admitted it was a difficult thing to do – except, “Without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do. But I'd like to do it without that major event, because usually that major event is not a good thing.”
You cannot talk about the patriotic reasons for standing during the National Anthem without addressing the patriotic reasons for taking a knee during the anthem
As frightening as that statement is - and what it may portend, far more frightening to those of us who look askance at all politicians was how the president went about trying to “Pull together” the American people.
His speech, as Santorum pointed out was very Reaganesque as Trump deftly used stories of tragedy and ordinary Americans to illustrate his vision for the country. It was the vision and not the people he used, however, that failed in its aspirations.
His jingoistic use of American ideals, twisted to fit an agenda that shows extreme antipathy toward America’s Constitution and historic attitudes is not only frustrating but shows the president remains dedicated to his near-sighted goals without ever giving thought to compromise.
You cannot talk about the patriotic reasons for standing during the National Anthem without addressing the patriotic reasons for taking a knee during the anthem. Members of the GOP shouting “USA. USA. USA” toward the end seemed less like an act of patriotism than an act of fealty to a despot who cares little for the things he claims to support.
You cannot talk about making this a country which respects its citizens while at the same time declaring war on a street gang with Hispanic origins. Not only is it beneath the president to declare war on a street gang – but by elevating the group to such prominence the president emboldens those who wish to rhetorically equate all immigrants to crime and violence. Using the victims of street crime to illustrate the point only seems shallow and exploitive.
"Americans are dreamers too," The president said.
The president also disingenuously and gratuitously claimed to have reached out to Democrats “extensively” to try and reach a compromise. But if the president wishes to reach out, it’s hard to get people to work with you after you try to bully them. “Crying Chuck Schumer” is less likely to work with you after you’ve beat him up.
“Americans are dreamers too,” the president said - and how right he is. And that includes the Dreamers.
The president’s sins in logic and leadership keep sound minds questioning his sincerity. He has called the press “The enemy of the people.” His handlers have tried to shut me up as I ask questions. The president has bullied and browbeat those who disagree with him – and even some who agree with him. He is at the very center of one of the most serious investigations into foreign meddling in the history of our government. Four members of his administration have been indicted. Two have flipped and are working with the prosecutor. Meanwhile the President is attempting to dismantle the Department of Justice and remake it in his image.
For those who retain the pertinent facts, the State of the Union Address seemed to be nothing more than another – albeit well executed – theater production from a man who lives as if his entire life is on stage.
Perhaps the greatest sin from the actor-in-chief came when the president remarked the national motto was “In God We Trust.”
For nearly the first 200 years of the United States the motto was “E Pluribus Unum,” – Out of Many, One – which reflected the American ideal. We didn’t care where you came from or how you got here, but once here we all created a country that was greater than the sum of its parts.
The United States abandoned that motto during the “Red Scare” and the era of tail-gunner Joe. We were different than those Godless Commies. We believed in God.
We sold out to jingoism. We placed our faith in a higher power to solve our problems. Mad Magazine lampooned this motto by claiming “In God We Trust – All others pay cash.” Those who campaigned to carve “In God We Trust” in our national monuments, on our coins and into the national consciousness, completely abandoned and subverted the real national motto.
The joy of this country has never been faith in a mythical being in heaven who always needs money (apologies to George Carlin) to solve our problems. The joy of this country has been and remains the fact that we can solve our own problems.
There is nothing wrong with American that can’t be solved by what is right with America, one of our adulterous presidents told us.
Out of Many – One. That is the only national motto we need.
At the end of the night, a moist-mouthed Joe Kennedy III uttered those words – reflecting the true ideals of the United States.
Our president misses this point, or doesn’t care too much for it. His speech, for all of its blathering, was an appeal to the base. He wants to be able to claim he tried to bring people together, without ever actually achieving it.
That would mean sacrifice on his part. That would mean compromise. That would mean leadership. And President Donald Trump has proved he has no ability to sacrifice, no ability to compromise and limited ability to lead beyond his base of rabid supporters.
Perhaps that’s why he is so willing to place his trust in God rather than himself. But the rest of us need to remember Out of Many – One.