The State of the Union is strong, not because of a Trump Presidency but because of our people resisting this administration and applying the checks and balances of our democratic institutions.
My shock in watching the State of the Union wasn’t so much with the thinly veiled agenda of intolerance embedded in the verbosity of this President. It was more so in the manipulative use of stagecraft and the bully pulpit.
A few notable points struck me while watching the speech as the President touched on the following areas:
Righteous Vision: Trump touted his “righteous” vision in Making America Great Again—which, I would argue, was much greater prior to the beginning of his continuous hijacking of the national spotlight. His on-record tweets and statements have outlined a different vision to the majority of Americans that the “righteous” he refers to are a select few that are of a certain look and class that Trump deems acceptable; everyone else has been maligned, insulted and alienated by his acts and rhetoric of intolerance and arrogance forever memorialized on Twitter and television.
Belief in America: As he takes a jab at those who express a right to freedoms endowed by our Constitution, the President discusses people’s belief in America. However, in doing so, he presents a hypocrisy in regards to the Dreamers. He seems to not recognize that these folks also believe in America but are now in a situation where their future achievements are put under the threat of deportation by a President who uses them as pawns rather than recognizing them as people, people who have overwhelmingly contributed to the greatness of America.
Pillars of Immigration: For so long, family values was at the heart of this President’s political party’s platform. What happened? As the President tried to sell his immigration policies to the people—claiming his focus is on the best interest of all Americans—he may want to tell that to the many sons, daughters, wives and husbands (who are American citizens) facing real situations where they are now being torn apart from one another at the hands of Trump’s policies. These “American” family members are having their “bests interests” decimated when their family is torn apart in this mantra of making America great!! Where is the greatness in taking a mom or dad away from the lives of their children if one parent is undocumented while the other is not? Many words can be used to describe those who condone such things; “great” is not one that comes to mind.
Victimization: As the personal stories of many folks were highlighted, one could not help to feel for what they have endured and how some have been victimized by unfortunate events. As the narratives unfolded it seemed as if they were now being victimized again—this time, by a President using them as props. It’s wrong—what happens to victims of crimes and inhumane treatment—it’s just wrong! On the backside of these personal ordeals, the underlying message being sent by this President regarding undocumented immigrants was nothing less than disingenuous. In propping the stories of these victims up in the manner in which he did, his intent was to simultaneously drive many more people down by insinuating that those not here legally (like the Dreamers) are engaged in nefarious activities victimizing people routinely—something that is simply untrue.
In the short time after the speech, the spin and defense of this President started via pundits, social media keyboard warriors, and the likes. Observing the arguments and debates play out it was amazing to see how low some of the standards for several of his defenders have fallen. So, too has the bar for what is deemed praiseworthy by them, when it is considered an accomplishment for a President to coherently utter words read from a script (TelePrompTer) written by someone other than himself, words that don’t “overtly” insult, demean, or criticize with colorful adjectives and inflammatory or crass language.
While we live in a time where the political divide in our country is polarizing—where people who have grown up in different environments, circumstances and experiences have ardently shaped their views on politics and patriotism—a silver lining can be appreciated by all: people are talking.
Issues that have festered just below the surface have been forced out into the open that test the resolve of the everyday person in a manner that has provoked and stirred a national awakening of consciousness that drives the larger questions we must ask ourselves and ones that will define us going forward as Americans of a United States.
Who are we?
Who do we want to be?
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