By: Keemia Beizai
After a 35-day government shutdown, President Trump finally delivered his second State of the Union address to a divided Congress.
With the eyes of millions of Americans on him, President Trump stood in front of Congress on Tuesday, February 5th, to begin his long-awaited State of the Union address. Various attendees and millions of Americans at home watched to see what his unpredictable speech would consist of.
The division between the audience of the State of the Union became apparent from the moment President Trump entered the room, and continued throughout the 82-minute long speech.
He was applauded and welcomed by the side of the room filled with Republican Congress members as he walked towards the podium. However, opposition could already be seen on the Democratic side of the room.
Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been getting a lot of attention as the youngest woman to serve in Congress. She wore white and tweeted about it saying, “I wore all-white today to honor the women who paved the path before me, and for all the women yet to come. From suffragettes to Shirley Chisholm, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the mothers of the movement.”
Whether the audience was in support of or against President Trump, members of both political parties were trying to make statements through what they wore, their reactions to certain topics, and guests that they brought with them.
Differing reactions between the Democrats and Republicans towards topics such as the immigration, health care, abortion laws, and the economy showed the clear divide within Congress.
While Republicans stood and cheered in response to Trump’s claims that he will build a wall, most Democrats sat in silence to show their disapproval. When Trump made the statement, “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before,” the Democratic side of the room stood and applauded.
However, the moment quickly became uncomfortable when Trump responded to their cheers by saying, “You weren’t supposed to do that.”
He then added, “Don’t sit yet. You’re going to like this… exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time.” With this statement, there was a roar of applause and chants of “U.S.A” from the group of Democratic women dressed in white.
The difference between the two sides of the room was represented by the two politicians standing behind President Trump, with Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Breaking away from tradition, the Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, did not give an introductory speech for President Trump prior to his entrance. The reason for this seemingly disrespectful action may lie in the fact that she was forced to postpone the State of the Union address about a week later than the original date due to the government shutdown.
Her frustrations were apparent throughout the speech, as she reacted to certain statements by rolling her eyes, pursing her lips, or reading papers to show that she was ignoring what the president was saying. One instance where she stood up and clapped in a seemingly sarcastic manner towards President Trump was recognized by many viewers and has gone viral.
This passive-aggressive response was prompted by Trump telling Americans to, “reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and [to] embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”
She reacted this way after spending a month dealing with the government shutdown caused by President Trump’s demand for funding for a wall along the Mexican border. During his speech, Trump referred to this government shutdown when saying that he had not given up on his fight for a wall.
Trump boasted about the improvements in the economy and unemployment rates during this past year. He set goals to continue improvement in these categories, and to improve opportunities for all Americans.
He also addressed the problems that our country is still facing, such as national security, infrastructure, the high cost of prescription drugs, and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and childhood cancer. As with any State of the Union address, the president also brought up many controversial topics, including border security, war in Afghanistan, relationships with important countries such as North Korea and Iran, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
During multiple instances, President Trump mentioned the importance of bipartisanship within the government during this time. Even Trump, who many blame as the root of the major divide between the two political parties, realizes this issue of disunion.
As the next presidential election of 2020 approaches, Americans will have to decide whether they want to move towards bipartisanship or to continue increasing the divide between Democrats and Republicans.