President Trump delivered a call to bipartisanship in a largely predictable State of the Union that was two weeks late because Democrats refused to invite him to the House for the speech during the longest government shutdown in history.
state of the union
Mandated by the constitution, the State of the Union address generally includes information on budget requests as well as a report on the health of the economy and foreign affairs. It is also a way for the president to speak directly to the American people, and, in so doing, to explain and sell his initiatives.
Persuasion is important: without support, the president’s agenda may not become law.
What the president wants matters but it’s not all that matters: in our government of checks and balances, both the executive and legislative branches need to agree. It is the legislative branch that is responsible for passing laws, but the president has veto power. And, while the legislative branch can overturn a veto, the judicial branch can declare a law to be unconstitutional.
the president didn’t start the speech on a partisan note
Divided Congress is a reality for President Trump–which means he’ll need to work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi–but he didn’t acknowledge the first-ever two-term female speaker of the House.
George Bush, on the other hand, recognized the first-ever female speaker of the house, the same Nancy Pelosi, even going into details about how proud her father would’ve been to see her in that role, as well as congratulating the new Democratic class in Congress.
“Tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own — as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker,” Mr. Bush said then.
nonetheless, he called for a “rejection of revenge” starting NOW
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good,” President Trump said.
Even though, during an interview with CBS last Sunday, President Trump said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “doesn’t mind human trafficking” and added, “You have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi.”
“In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom, a boom that has rarely been seen before. There has been nothing like it.”
It’s true that there has been economic growth—not unprecedented growth—but growth nonetheless.
criminal justice reform
“The First Step Act gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption.”
The First Step Act is one of the most popular programs Trump has signed into law in his first term. A poll released last December found that 60 percent of Americans approved of it.
women in white
Democrat Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida led the female Democrats in wearing white to the State of the Union address. She explained, “When the president looks out at us, we wanted him to see a wave of white that really represents our message — not just to him, but to the nation and the world — that we’re here as part of the Democrats [and] The People’s Agenda; that we must promote policies that will allow girls and women to fulfill their full potential.”