The President at His Best, Partisanship at its Worst

After watching the president’s State of the Union speech, I was taken aback by several things. The first was the eloquence with which President Trump delivered the address. It was well paced, calculated, and on message. The State of the Union address was a presidential speech, not the campaign rhetoric for which he is so well known. Still, there was an ample amount of him “taking a victory lap” around the many accomplishments he has had so far.

One thing President Trump cannot resist is shining the light on himself. The president’s self-aggrandizing is something I, as well as most of the people watching, have come to accept. The president did not disappoint in that regard. There were a couple of awkward moments, mainly when he talked about how he thought the United States would be at war with North Korea had he not been elected. I thought that was a little (maybe a lot) over the top and out of place in this speech. That topic received a few groans from the peanut gallery, but that was to be expected.

As he really got into the meat of his message, it was clear he was handing the Democrats an olive branch; several, in fact. He said how he supported many of the ideas the Democrats had championed, and this brought a rousing response from his Republican Party but only tepid applause from the Democrat side of the House.

As the president introduced guests in the audience, he set the tone of the entire message. He highlighted the courage, commitment, and dedication of those he presented. The message was how one could do great things and rise to the occasion when they had to. Emphasizing military veterans from the Normandy Invasion to Holocaust survivors, law enforcement officers, and those that his policy of reform in the criminal justice system had benefited, he highlighted their presence, he pushed the message of greatness.

I was especially dismayed by the lack of support from the Democrat side of the House. Of course, this is the usual circus of Jack-in-the-Box up-and-down antics from the two political parties. We have come to expect it when a president delivers a State of the Union speech, regardless of party affiliation. I think it is an abysmal display of childishness and partisan politics above all else.

President Trump repeatedly spoke about how the policies of his administration were not necessarily Republican- or Democrat-based, but policies that were in the best interest of America. That statement did get a few of the Democrats up out of their seats, albeit begrudgingly.

As he shifted to the economy, there was no way to dispel the successes and achievement in the U.S. economy under his administration. He was quick to remind the legislature that unemployment was at an all-time low. He spoke about the increase in wages and manufacturing jobs that had been waning before his election. Denying the facts is hard.

There was a very noticeable contingent of Democrats dressed in all white. Their clothing was supposed to be a showing of solidarity for the suffragettes of decades past. When the president talked about how the employment of women in the U.S. was at an all-time high, even those Democrat women that had been steadfastly sitting on their hands stood and applauded. He then capitalized on the moment by stating that there were more women than ever in the legislature. As they stood and celebrated this statement, the president looked at them and said “ you aren’t supposed to do that,” meaning standing and applauding for him. It was a rare moment, and he reveled in the fact that he had practically forced the opposition to get out of their seats.

Something that I also noticed was the hesitancy of the Democrats to show any support for the president, even on issues that were strictly non-partisan and things everyone agreed on. You could see the Democrats sheepishly looking for one of their members to start, to decide to stand so they could follow suit. To me, it was a clear display of lack of courage on their part to show their actual convictions; maybe I am wrong. Perhaps they were showing their beliefs didn’t matter as long as they followed the party line. I think that sort of display is disgusting and disrespectful of the Office of the President.

The president said, “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence, not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”

He went on to say, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” When he made that declaration, Democrats sat and did not react. They passively endorsed socialism. Those watching the spectacle could not miss that message. Bernie Sanders as well as the new Democrat darling, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,  scowled.

Then the Democrats, these American politicians that we elect to represent us, showed their true agenda. When the president pushed the legislature to resist the move to unrestricted abortion even to the point of abortion during a live birth, the Democrats sat, unmoved. When he talked about the impending crisis on the southern border, a border that even now a new caravan of immigrants are approaching in Texas, the Democrats sat, unstirred. When he pledged that he would never abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Democrats sat, stolid.

U.S. Border Patrol at the southern border. (Credit: Donna Burton/Flickr)

I was astonished at the things the Democrats showed they supported by their lack of actions. In my opinion, the Democrats looked petty, selfish, and committed to putting on their blinders as to what the country needed and wanted. They chose to stay lockstep in the partisan politics of the far-left. They steadfastly continued the behavior and obstruction that has brought the country to a standstill.

The Democrats did not answer the president’s call to choose greatness. They instead decided to double down on the resistive, noncooperative and noncompromising tactics that will ensure yet another showdown in less than a few days.

The president again declared his commitment to securing our borders, and he loudly stated that he was going to build the wall. The Republicans stood and cheered, the Democrats sat, unimpressed.

After the president’s speech, the news pundits started on their analysis. As expected, the mainstream media that has been so critical of the president for as long as he has been in office (and some even before that) spun their opinion of the speech. But there was a problem. Even those most ardent detractors had a hard time completely panning his address. President Trump was at his best at the podium.

This State of the Union address was the best speech of his administration and the polls, polls run by both sides, show overwhelming support for the president’s message. Although not a friend of the president, CBS and its poll showed 76 percent approval of his address. CNN’s poll showed a 60 percent approval rating. No matter how you spin it, the State of the Union address was a resounding success for the president.

Is the tide turning? Was this President Trump’s watershed moment? Did the Democrats overplay their disdain? That sure is how it seems to me.

For years I have been waiting for a president to say something different at their State of the Union address. I have been waiting for a president to stand before the people at that hallowed hall and declare that he is no longer the Republican president. That he is no longer the Democrat president, that he is the American president, and that is his only loyalty. President Trump did not say that when he delivered the State of the Union address but he got as close as anyone ever has.

President Trump will give two more State of the Union addresses during his term. If they are anything like this one, I think the American people will want to hear more.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Jon Harris

Jon Harris is a former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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