After a 35-day federal government shutdown, temporarily remedied by a three-week reopening, President Donald Trump was finally able to deliver the annual State of the Union Address in the hallowed, historic halls of the House of Representatives Chamber. Trump opened the address, delivered on Feb. 5, by stating, “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.” While he embarked on a speech preaching unity, childish rhetoric preceding the speech and stretched facts took away from this impact, while again flaring partisan tensions.
It was an encouraging beginning, with Trump stating that “There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it,” and later that “Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.” Trump quickly digressed, condemning Democrats for their stance on hot topic issues, such as the border wall and abortion, as reported by CNN.
Typically, SOTUs include a budget message, an economic report on the nation, legislative agendas, and national priorities. Trump boasted inflated numbers of success, which didn’t sound so outlandish that one would feel the overwhelming urge to fact-check. Figures to check, as reported by The Washington Post, include how many jobs were created, wage raises, the number of Americans lifted off of food stamps, the GDP growth over time, the fall in unemployment rates of African, Hispanic, and Asian American peoples, the amount of people working, the success of small businesses in the face of the “death” tax, U.S. success in oil and gas production, and net exportation of energy.
The border is still on the forefront of many people’s minds, especially the furloughed federal workers who have another shutdown to fear on Feb. 15. While previous statements in the SOTU were meant to be uplifting and encouraging, the situation at the border was described as a world away from Trump’s America.
Trump continued to stress the emergency situation, calling it lawless. “Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net,” he said.
In reality, the majority of research proves both illegal and legal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than American-born citizens. Cries of violence, drug trafficking, gangs, and arrests were not only exaggerated, but claimed to be solved by the administration’s new proposal. A closer look at the “crisis ending” proposal shows that there is no humanitarian assistance to be provided. Rather, its tactics dissuade people from making the journey at all. War, nuclear weapons pacts, and trade deals were included in his other foreign policy statements.
While Trump boasted incorrectly that the number of women in the workforce is higher than ever, a tricky figure that must account for the actual value — not simply a larger proportion, at this particular moment — was one that “all Americans can be proud of.” At this point, reported by the New York Times, the many democratic women, clothed in white, stood up and cheered. Their outfit choice was a deliberate nod to the suffragist movement. While Trump’s statistics weren’t entirely correct, the energy was there in the form of roaring applause. Trump responded with a smile, “You weren’t supposed to do that.”
In a worrying conclusion, Trump took the stance that investigation was an impediment to legislation, an allusion to the ongoing legal allegations against him. In an era of readily accessible information, divided media, misinformation, and fake news, make sure to check and vet your sources. Do your research, find truth. And in the words of wise Abe Lincoln, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”