The Spur

Initial reaction to S.o.t.U. Address


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On Jan. 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump gave his first State of the Union Address on Capitol Hill. He addressed all of Congress, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, but pleaded without groveling.

Recently the U.S. Government experienced a shutdown and blame has been loudly directed across party lines. The simple fact is that whether it’s the Republicans or the Democrats being obstinate, differences have to be overcome and agreements made.

Mr. Trump has often declared that he would “drain the swamp”—i.e. the Federal Government—of its corruption and greed. That back room deals, shifty characters and sabotage would no longer be tolerated among the heads of our States and our Agencies. The middle-class was to be the new focus of domestic policies.

First, he must define the lens through which we are to view today’s struggles. From hurricanes to fires to shootings, Mr. Trump named heroes, victims and refugees.

“We came together,” said Mr. Trump, “not as Republicans or Democrats… but as representatives of the people.”

The “people” being who he’s just finished introducing (heroes, victims, refugees). He framed very clearly those few exemplary instances of “American” spirit, or human decency, and he invited the Nation to imagine what could come next through that same light.

But, again, first, the picture must be narrowed. Inside of the United States, “we” have created a mass of new jobs, “we” are making money, “we” are safe, strong and proud. It’s almost like we (us outside of Congress) are no longer suffering at all.

Beginning with unemployment numbers, the steps are easy to make to small-businesses, to the stock market, to taxes. A brief example of a small-business owner happy with the new tax reforms and then on again, leaving behind false impressions of widespread security. Does it stand to reason that percentages and rankings should accurately reflect the emotions of all Americans?

“We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty,” said Mr. Trump.

But, who is this new “we”? Only about a third of the way through his speech, the President is directing his words to Republicans specifically. The frame had narrowed, and many people followed it, until it rested on the Grand Old Party and, of course, at its head, President Trump himself.

The picture then begins to widen, its frame allowing for more people as the prosperity being imagined begins to mount. This is rather well done, obviously, but by hired speech writers, remember. From Mr. Trump’s own ideals America “will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.” Utopia is possible, screams the description.

And, “As America regains its strength”, he is inviting us to join him. “This opportunity must be extended to all citizens,” said Mr. Trump. So of course, we must have more law enforcement and lock our doors to foreigners. From there, we must harden ourselves against substance abusers and enablers. Only one step further, and we most absolutely should fatten our military’s purse to such a degree that might makes right and that’s the end of it.

To be sure, in the next State of the Union Address President Trump will again stand tall on the shoulders of a middle-class he cannot relate to, ask for credit in all successful endeavors of Congress and Wall-Street, and use any vulnerable person available to obscure his points; shifty, like grasping for a hand without fingers and trusting its grip.

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Initial reaction to S.o.t.U. Address