Image Source: iNews
By Eryk Schumacher
Finally, after weeks of postponement, President Donald Trump gave his 2019 State of the Union address in the halls of the United States House of Representatives on the 5th of February.
Following the longest government shutdown in history, as well as the election of a new Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who was seated behind the President during his speech, the address would almost inevitably be deemed controversial by Trump’s Democratic opposition.
The speech recited the common policies of the Trump administration, including the attempt at reconciliation with North Korea, as well as the construction of a border wall intersecting the American border with Mexico.
The State of the Union was preceded by a three-week government shutdown, that was caused by a disagreement between Trump and the Democratic leadership over the building of the border wall which he repeatedly promised to erect during his campaign.
The shutdown left almost 900,000 federal workers temporarily out of job, and the more vital government employees, such as air traffic controllers, had to keep working without being kept on the payroll.
The contention concerning the border wall resulted in the new Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, withholding an invitation for the President to give his State of the Union address on the scheduled date of January 29th. The invitation was finally sent after Trump conceded to the Democratic demands, and ended the government shutdown.
The President called for unity and bipartisan approaches to his policies in the speech, stating that, “The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda, it is the agenda of the American people.” Albeit, he also stated that, in spite of the weeks-long shutdown, he will keep the promise of constructing a border wall, stating that “walls work, walls save lives”.
Though, if there were any efforts at making compromise on both sides of the isle, they are now visibly void, as another shutdown is looming over the federal government. If a legislation that will satisfy the President’s ambitions concerning border security will enter and pass through the congress floor by Friday, the day when the federal funding runs out, another shutdown may occur.
President Trump has also presented the expansion of his foreign policy of de-escalation with North Korea, announcing that a second summit is to be held between him and Kim Jong-un this month in Vietnam. The President stated in his address that, if not for his policies of appeasement of North Korea, the United States would “be in a major war with North Korea”.
The President also addressed his political opponents, most notably the newly sworn in congresswomen, who were dressed all in white for the speech to show their solidarity with feminism. He did this when he stated, “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 before.” The previously mentioned congresswomen then stood up and began clapping, and the President responded with a smirk, “You were not supposed to do that.”
The State of the Union left its audiences with mixed feelings, the Republican right hailed the address as evidence of the success of the Trump administration, while the Democratic left scorned it as another proof of the President’s arrogance, but with the Presidential elections approaching next year, this year’s State of the Union may prove pivotal in swaying the American electorate in front of the polls.