In a special to The Sabre, Rajhad Burks ’19 reviews President Donald Trump’s State of the Union, Stacey Abrams’ response, and how the president has followed up on his calls for unity in the State of the Union.
On Feb. 5, Donald Trump gave his second State of the Union address as president. The fallout from the historic government shutdown made this address highly anticipated.
The defining topic of the address was expected to be Trump’s continued pitch for a wall across the Mexican border. In actuality, the 80-minute speech tackled several different topics and sent mixed messages to the national audience. At times, Trump called for unity and listed some bipartisan policies such as: criminal justice reform, cancer research, and fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. All of these policies drew mild applause from the Democrats in the audience.
On the flip side, Trump criticized Democrats for embracing “the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution.” He also maintained his hardline stance on immigration.
Trump has already undermined the call for unity in his speech. In the days following the address, Trump has called Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff “a political hack” and labeled Democrats as “nuts” on his preferred method communication, Twitter. If Trump wants his call for bipartisanship and unity to be taken seriously, his actions must match his words.
The State of the Union address is often directly rebutted by the opposing party immediately after. The Democrats chose Stacey Abrams to give the speech after the State of the Union. Abrams narrowly lost her race to become Georgia’s first black governor, and is seen as a future presidential candidate. Abrams focused her rebuttal on the negative effects of the recent government shutdown, voting rights issues, and the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Abrams started off her speech by detailing her upbringing, similar to Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention speech. Abrams then moved to a full critique of the Trump administration. The only problem with her speech was that it wasn’t a true rebuttal of Trump’s State of the Union address, it was more so a rebuttal on Trump’s entire term so far.
The big question that both speeches left viewers asking was if Feb. 5 marked a turning point for the Trump administration, so far the answer is a resounding no.