Tuesday night, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech and, despite its length, Wake Forest College Democrats ultimately found it underwhelming. Trump stated that he has made “incredible progress” and achieved “extraordinary success” over this past year, but nothing could be further from the truth. Public dissatisfaction and frustration with the current administration continue to grow, as indicated by Trump’s historically low approval rating, even during this time of relative economic prosperity.
We find Trump’s praise for a tax bill that only benefits the top one percent and that strips the individual mandate, in turn contributing to increasing health insurance premiums, very problematic. His praise is especially troubling as he continues to lie and mislead the public on the success of this bill, describing it, falsely, as the “biggest tax cut and reform in American history.” In addition, his self-acclamation for ending the war on “beautiful, clean coal” is concerning, especially in conjunction with his failure to address the dangers of climate change.
We as a club support Trump’s call for bipartisanship on issues such as paid family leave, prison reform, infrastructure, investing in job training, lowering prescription drug costs and fighting the opioid epidemic. However, President Trump’s track record, as well as his failure to provide a plan on how to solve these issues, does not make us confident that he will follow through on many of these promises.
In addition, we want the President to show his desire for bipartisanship beyond stating it in a teleprompter speech. In the past, his deeply insulting and disrespectful comments about Democratic members of Congress has reinforced the lack of cooperation between parties and this type of language cannot continue if Trump is serious about passing bipartisan deals.
Despite the glimmer of an effort to unite the country through his guests’ inspirational stories and policy issues that both parties can support, some of his language was alarmingly divisive, including his comment that “Americans are dreamers, too” and focusing on the story of the MS-13 gang that does not and should not characterize the undocumented immigrant community in this country.
Strikingly contrasting Trump’s divisiveness and flat cadence, Congressman Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) delivered an energetic and passionate response to Trump’s State of the Union that declared that we can “choose both;” that politics isn’t a zero-sum game, that we don’t have to choose between American workers and DREAMers, but instead can fight for both.
We as a club fully support this notion and want to especially reiterate Congressman Kennedy’s statement that DREAMers are part of our American story. As a club, we will continue to support DREAMers on this campus and everywhere and we hope that Congress can pass an immigration deal that protects these valuable members of our society.
We hope that the sentiment of Congressman Kennedy’s speech carries into the midterm elections and motivates us to flip the House.
While we are cautiously hopeful that some bipartisan deals can be made on the issues stated above, our main focus as a club is taking back Congress so that we can get back to passing legislation that reflects our Democratic ideals of equality, opportunity, prosperity and justice.