Bipartisanship and American Freedom: President Trump’s SOTU Address

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Tuesday, January 30th at 9pm EST, millions of Americans tuned in to listen to President Donald Trump give his very first State of the Union address. The State of the Union Address, although originally designed to be a nonbiased report of the year’s political progress and happenings, has taken on a new persona over the years. The Address has become more of a platform for presidents to push their future agenda on congress by relating it to their accomplishments thus far. That being said, Trump did a very decent job rhetorically with his first SOTU, if nothing else. 

“Our people are strong,” President Trump announced to the hall of politicians.  As he began his speech, President Trump started by talking about every day American heroism in the face of recent tragedies. The president made references to several of America’s recent tragic mass shootings, amongst other devastating national tragedies. Upon highlighting many of America’s every day heroes, President Trump used this as a segue into his platform for bipartisan solutions to promote progress in the federal government. President Trump made a reasonably agreeable point when he mentioned that the government should act as bipartisan as we do in the wake of tragedies all of the time. If the government is more able to work together rather than splitting all the time, our country would make great progress. By starting off this SOTU with a completely indisputable point of view, President Trump opened the room to be inclusive on both ends of the political spectrum. By using excessive pathos and targeting the emotional side of American togetherness, President Trump opened his speech with a unifying theme that held together his entire speech’s agenda effectively. 

“Not everyone gets what they want.” Another prominent area in which Trump held the bipartisan theme was in relation to immigration laws. President Trump noted that “Americans are dreamers, too,” creating an unmistakable subtext about DACA children and the recent immigration disputes. Trump called upon congress to be open to bipartisanship in immigration reform. Surprisingly, Trump took a rather moderate approach on the stance of immigration reform stating that he hopes to create a “down the middle” compromise that allows a reasonable path to grant merit-based citizenship to DACA children over a twelve-year time frame, get rid of the visa lottery and chain migration, and focus on allowing immediate family members of these children into the country. This approach is much more moderate than most believe Trump’s policies to be at first glance. Trump makes an honest attempt here to change the conversation over from him trying to deport all DACA children from America to finding a safe, logistic opportunity for them to be granted full citizenship while replacing or reforming the system we have in place. 

President Trump was not shy in exploiting the American opioid crisis and announcing the problems with the American healthcare system. Very progressively for a Republican president, Trump compared the prices of prescription medications in America to those in other countries, stating that our citizens pay more for healthcare than we should be. Trump stated harsh facts about the opioid crisis, such as the shocking statistic that America experiences an average of seven opioid-related deaths an hour, changing the regular conservative “war on drugs” conversation over to one much more widely accepted as an epidemic. This approach changed the drug conversation over from usual marijuana legalization discussion to a much more pressing matter that all sides of the political spectrum can agree on changing. Trump’s promise to make strides in fixing healthcare and addressing the opioid crisis did not go unnoticed by either party. 

One of the notable tactics that President Trump utilized in his speech were the people he decided to highlight. President Trump included a mix of average American workers as well as notable families and figures. One of the everyday Americans that Trump highlighted in his speech was Preston Sharp, a young American boy who had the honor of sitting next to the FLOTUS throughout the speech. Trump displayed Sharp as a symbol of American pride and honor, as Sharp is responsible for placing over 40,000 American flags on the headstones of fallen American soldiers. Trump effectively used Sharp’s good deeds to display the ideal American citizen; one who is proud of his country and stands for those who protect it. President Trump then spoke about America’s responsibility to honor those who sacrifice for our country, like Sharp does currently. On the other hand, Trump used notable Americans, Otto Warmbier’s parents, to display the tragedy and severity of the North Korean regime. By highlighting Otto’s family members, Trump was able to demonstrate a tactile reason why we should be harsher on North Korea. In the same way, Trump called on crippled North Korean escapee Ji Seong-Ho to demonstrate the true look of freedom. Seong-Ho is a double amputee who escaped North Korea on a pair of wooden crutches, which he displayed in triumph to the entire Capitol Chamber.

Towards the end of the speech, Trump took a turn away from his personal accomplishments to showcase the accomplishments of many other American citizens. He used these people as symbols of freedom, and effectively related that back to what our country was founded on. He emphasized in his last line that “it is the people who are making America great again” utilizing his famous slogan to rally American citizens into believing that it is their accomplishments that are driving this great country. Conclusively, President Trump’s SOTU speech leaned toward bipartisanship, togetherness, and American freedom in a vastly more moderate way than he has ever previously displayed. Whether his moderate viewpoints are idealistic or realistic, we will see over the next few years.

Caroline DeWaldComment