I did not watch Donald Trump’s State of the Union (SOTU) address last night, for three very good reasons.
- I was already not feeling well and knew that having to see his face, hear his voice, and see all those strange contortions he does with his face would make me unbearably ill.
- I feared that my strong reaction to having to listen to him would cause me to irreparably damage my laptop, and frankly I cannot afford a new computer at the moment.
- The most important reason of all is that the speech was sure to be filled with lies, or as Keith would prefer I say, ‘untruths’. Why bother? I have better things to do with my time.
I have worked my way through most of the transcript this morning, have read a few analyses, read The Washington Post’s fact check, and concluded that I was correct in my assessment – it would have been a colossal waste of my valuable time. That said, I do have some things to say (surprised, aren’t you?) about it all.
First of all, one has to wonder why we even have a State of the Union address every year.
Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states that the president shall ”from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Somehow, I think that goal could be accomplished without all the pomp and circumstance that surround the event these days. And, with today’s instantaneous communication, the speech seems really to have outlived its usefulness. In fact, of what use is it to waste the time of Congress, the Supreme Court, other guests and the home viewing audience, just to listen to fairy tales? Why couldn’t he just tweet it, as he does everything else? I won’t bother to bore you with the fact-checking … you can get that from any of the major media outlets.
The speech is most notable for what was not addressed.
Climate Change. How can a speech that is intended to inform us about the state of the country, completely ignore the thing that, by most measures, is the single most important issue facing this, and every other nation? Under Trump, the U.S. has pulled out of major agreements to work toward reducing carbon emissions and has rolled back the regulations that were intended to help protect the environment. We have seen the results with our own eyes in the past year, even the past week, yet he says not one word?
Renewable Energy. The future is not in the coal, gas and oil that Trump has so adamantly vowed to protect, but the future is in renewable energy such as solar, wind and water. Under Trump, there is no major push by the federal government to explore and expand on renewable energy, but a number of states and corporations are participating. This could have been a genuine feather in Trump’s cap, had he opted to do the right thing, to take seriously the need to distance ourselves from fossil fuels. Instead, he chose the most destructive path.
Relations with Allies. Our relationships with our allies are crumbling, thanks to Trump’s policies that have, in many cases, left our allies scrambling to try to make up for the failure of the U.S. to pull its weight, such as in the Paris Accord, NATO, the Iran nuclear agreement, and NAFTA, and the latest threat to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Add to that the disdain he has shown for the leaders of allied nations, such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May and others. We are no longer a good and trusted friend, to put it quite simply.
Poverty. Despite Trump’s claims that wages have risen, jobs have been created, 13.4% of people in this nation are living below the poverty level. As the population increases, and some jobs are replaced by technology, the number of people who struggle just to put food on the table has risen and will continue to rise.
Education. We are falling behind in our education system, as I have mentioned more than a few times, and this is the key to almost everything I have listed so far. The new trend seems to be moving away from developing minds and more toward job training. This is a mistake … a huge mistake … and to add insult to injury, this nation has made it nearly impossible for a young person from a lower-income family to go to college.
National Debt. With the December 2017 tax cuts that benefit almost exclusively the wealthy in the nation, we severely reduced the nation’s revenue. To maintain a balanced budget, thereby keeping the national debt at current levels, would require spending cuts equal to the revenue reduction. But those cuts, under Trump’s plan, would come from programs that help disadvantaged people. Trump’s fiscal plan is rather a reverse Robin Hood – rob from the poor to give to the rich.
Gun Regulation. The U.S. is the only nation on the globe with almost no regulations on firearms. Those who claim the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own an arsenal that includes assault-type weapons that can mow down a crowd inside of a minute are fools. On this, the 37th day of 2019, there have already been 510 gun deaths in the U.S. An average of 14 per day. And yet, this topic was not considered important enough to be addressed in the State of the Union.
There is more I could add, but you get the picture. The address was a public relations event, nothing more. I found it strange that he would call for unity, when he has, in fact, been the most divisive president in the history of the nation. “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution …” he said, when he is the very source of revenge and retribution, he has pursued a divisive political strategy very much focused on his base. Last night’s speech, like most everything he does, was intended only for his base … he told them what they wanted to hear and left the rest of us with the clear knowledge that nothing is changed, that the state of the nation is _____________________. (Fill in the blank)