When President Donald J. Trump gave his second State of the Union on Jan. 30, it was two weeks after his administration caved and ended the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The President’s speech did not mention this, but rather attempted to obfuscate the shutdown by presenting the President himself as a bridge of bipartisanship. However, Trump’s SOTU was plagued with factual inconsistencies and attacks against his opposition — especially the rising and growing populist left — all of which illustrate the President’s averse behavior toward those who do not agree with him.
It is important and imperative that the President is fact-checked and corrected, but even more so that the fact-checked information is circulated around. For example, the President claimed that there are, “new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” which alluded to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Democrats’ new star. However, the definition of socialism is when, “the state owns all the means of production,” and no Democrat has called for the government to take over all business. Trump continued his misleading tirade when he stated that the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro used, “socialist policies [which] have turned that nation from being the wealthiest… into a state of poverty,” which is debatable as many analysts have stated that the rampant corruption, lack of law and absence of democracy have been bigger factors.
However, the most egotistical and unsubstantiated part of the SOTU was when the President stated that, had he not been elected president, the U.S. would be in a major war with North Korea. This could not be farther than the truth; while President Barack Obama continued his economic sanctions against the pariah state, and while Pyongyang continued to conduct nuclear tests, there was no significant chance of war. In fact, when President Trump wrote that North Korea’s actions would be met with “fire and fury,” this statement could have increased the chances. Another point that should be clarified is when the President spoke about wage growth. He stated that, “wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades,” and although wages are growing, the data suggests that wage growth actually rose faster under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
I will give credit to the President where credit is due — even if that credit is far and few between. When Trump stated that, “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” everyone in that chamber and at home should have been cheering. Trump continued to break the war-hawkish climate that has plagued D.C. for decades when he boasted that his administration is negotiating with the Taliban. Although these comments are to be welcomed, especially after years of entrenched conflict in foreign lands, one should take Trump’s rhetoric with a grain of salt. The President in one breath speaks about ending conflicts, while in another he boasts about ripping up a diplomatic deal that prevented nuclear proliferation.
One aspect of the speech that I will greatly applaud is when the President spoke out against anti-semitism and the recent attacks against America’s Jewish communities. Anti-semitism has been on the rise in the United States, but so are other phobias in our country including xenophobia against the Hispanic community, Islamophobia towards the Muslim community, etc.
While the President bragged about his administration’s bipartisan accomplishments, referring to the successful passage of the recent criminal justice reform bill, new farm bill and the Veterans Affairs accountability bill, the president has made it clear that he thrives on division, even as he calls for consensus. His attacks against the the Democratic party, the Mueller investigation and minorities all confirm that the President is unwilling to move on.