President Trump State of Union Speech

President Trump Addresses the Nation in His Second State of the Union Speech

After a government shutdown pushed back the State of the Union speech by two weeks, President Donald Trump spoke to a joint session of the United States Congress last night, Tuesday, Feb. 5.

During the speech, the president ordered for a solution to end illegal immigration, late-term abortion, and the conclusion of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, while touting a thriving economy and the success of the tax cut bill passed by Congress last December.

“We are considered far and away the hottest economy in the world, not even close,” he said. “Unemployment has reached its lowest rate in over half a century.”

Speaking about the criminal justice reform bill overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of Congress, Trump called for bipartisan action to solve many of the country’s current problems, including passing immigration reform while continuing to protect the ability of legal immigrants to enter the United States.

“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protect the lives and jobs of our citizens,” he said, while repeating a claim that large Central American caravans are attempting to cross into the United States, which fact-checkers from the New York Times have found to be exaggerated.

In the second half of his speech, Trump delivered several bipartisan lines, including a promise to protect healthcare patients with pre-existing conditions, that drew applause from both parties. At several points, chants of “U-S-A!” could be heard throughout the chamber.

However, Trump’s recent statements have led to tension with Democrats that may end up getting in the way of coming up with a bipartisan solution on immigration reform. Even during the State of the Union speech, the official Twitter account of Senate Democrats was stating its disagreement with Trump on certain issues.

The latest conflict had started on Sunday evening, when Trump had posted a tweet criticizing Democrats of being unhelpful on immigration, writing, “With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security. Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there is no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions – KEEP OUT!”

Democrats fired back at Trump’s claims that they were responsible for the shutdown, with an excerpt from Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Adams’s response stating, “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people – but our values.”

As special guests of his, Trump invited the family of a married couple who were allegedly murdered in their Nevada home by an undocumented immigrant, along with an 11 year old Delaware boy who has been bullied at school for sharing the same last name as the president.

On the other side, Democratic New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman invited Victorina Morales, an undocumented immigrant who formerly worked for the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ. A number of Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, were also seen wearing white to honor the Woman’s Suffrage movement of the 20th Century.

Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science, noted how these displays were examples of political messaging, a subtle way of advocating for a position.

“It serves as a way to garner media attention as certain actions/guests will gain more coverage, furthering the message they are attempting to send without saying a word,” he said. “In terms of the president’s or member of Congress’ guests, they’re only a pawn in the game.”

Chapman also noted that political messaging has long been a part of the State of the Union, with both parties expressing their agenda by choosing whether to stand and applaud when President Trump makes a point.

“There really isn’t much to do in terms of making it less politicized,” he said. “It’s simply a product of the growing polarization we see in Congress.”

Kenneth Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology and an associate professor of political science, predicted that Trump would miss an opportunity to give a vision about taking action on an issue. Instead, he would be entering campaign mode, with several Democratic candidates already entering the race to oppose him in the 2020 election.

“I think the State of the Union has been largely insignificant since the late 1990s with Bill Clinton,” Mitchell said. “It’s not some forward vision anymore that talks about what we are really prioritizing.”

Donald Kohler, a senior communication student, expressed hope that the results of the speech will be productive. “I hope it gets us to actually talk about important things,” he said.

Delivering the Democratic responses were Stacey Abrams and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.