The 2019 State of the Union Address, given Feb. 5, was a forgettable one.
That’s not to say that there was anything normal about it. For example, there were the democrat women in white, which paid homage to the legacy of women’s suffrage in the United States and the record number of women serving in this year’s congress.
There were also plenty of other moments that sparked interest, such as Nancy Pelosi’s interesting (and possibly demeaning) way of clapping. Additionally, there were various speculations about the First Family, which focused on the absence of some members.
Nothing was normal about Trump’s State of the Union speech either. While seemingly unthinkable of past presidents, Trump has a tendency to break precedent with his choice of words; and it is not a surprise that he veered away from norms in his State of the Union speech. There was the usual, not-so-humble bragging as well, which came in the form of the president exaggerating the economic growth of the nation while under his watch.
The speech, which consisted of three parts — the first urging bipartisan cooperation, the second part including a row against democrats and the third reciting a vast array of subjects that doubled down the beliefs and values of his administration — seemed rather disorganized. A flurry of topics, which included astronauts, ICE, the border wall, security, women, abortion, Venezuela, socialism, troops and many others were all jammed into the speech.
The essential purpose of Trump’s speech was to achieve bipartisanship. Trump, who stated that he was interested in breaking “decades of political stalemate,” urged the Congress to approve of legislation that will fund the government in order to avert another shutdown. Noticeably, the President left the previous thirty-five day shutdown out of his speech, and instead warned against an upcoming one. This was later critiqued by various lawmakers who accused Trump of avoiding responsibility.
The big question is whether Trump succeeded in his goals of rallying Democrats and pushing his agenda. The answer to that question is no. Trump, who filled the majority of his speech with divisive topics, ended up driving Democrats further away. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still adamant that there will be no funding for a border wall in the highly-debated bipartisan border security package. While the Democrats are pushing for billion dollars on strengthening security on existing ports of entry, Trump has remained fixated on the wall.
Trump also pushed Democrats away when he essentially demanded that they not investigate him.
“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” Trump stated.
This statement ruffled a lot of feathers, since most saw this warning of sorts as Trump’s attempt to brand all oversight attempts as politically charged endeavors to derail his administration. House Democrats were rather displeased with this declaration, since the newly installed committee chairs believe that their Republican predecessors neglected their oversight duties.
Trump’s doubling down on divisive topics such as immigration, abortion and socialism definitely didn’t help in getting him support from Democrats either. Which is, essentially, the nail in the coffin for the border wall he is desperately trying to fund. In fact, it earned him a lot of ire, since prominent members of the left were appalled by his arguments. Some of these members called his rhetoric against latino immigrants “racist.”
None of this is new, however. For the past two years, we’ve seen nothing but partisanship and division in our government. This speech, while well liked by Republican legislators, only served to further drive Democrats away. In the era of Trump, this speech was not out of the ordinary, and was pretty unremarkable.