In theory, a presidential address should be an occasion for the United States to come together. Under President Donald Trump, it’s anything but that. This Tuesday night, he appeared before a joint session of Congress for his annual State of the Union address, trotting out familiar talking points that have little to nothing to do with reality.
‘As we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the United States… I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for this tremendous onslaught. This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well being of all America.’
To be clear — the asylum seekers he’s referring to as members of the caravans are not criminals, and seeking asylum is not illegal. Period.
Although there was talk in the days leading up to the State of the Union of Trump delivering a message of unity, many didn’t take that seriously — including apparently Trump himself, although he did eventually offer lip service to the concept Tuesday like:
‘The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican or a Democratic agenda. It is the agenda of the American people… There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage together to seize it… We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.’
It is deeply ironic for Trump to push such a line. Publicly, he continued to drag Democrats through the mud up until the very morning before he was slated to address Congress, and The New York Times added that behind the scenes, he had complained that early drafts of his speech were too soft on Democrats.
That doesn’t even cover his endless angry partisan antagonism. Perhaps he hopes none of his listeners have heard of his Twitter feed.
Going forward, the looming specter of another government shutdown remains because current funding will run out on February 15, and Trump has made his commitment to getting billions of dollars for a border wall blocking off Mexico clear, despite the fact that it’ll do little besides distract from actual issues that threaten people already in the United States and those trying to come here. Still, he refused to approve any needed funding without included provisions for a wall for over a month, and he’s threatened to declare a national emergency for weeks and weeks on end at this point — although a real emergency would no doubt demand a much prompter response.
Trump continues to define his presidency with his racism, incompetence, and shallow promises of a better path forward.