Scoot: Will President Trump stick to what he said in the SOTU address?

January 31, 2018 - 10:18 am

President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to a deeply divided Congress and an equally divided America.  President Trump’s speech was defined by a strong call for unity and a patriotic reminder that, as Americans, we can come together and accomplish anything.  The speech was also highlighted by emotional stories of heroic behavior by some of the special guests invited by the Administration.

Traditionally, SOTU addresses are more like cheerleading rallying calls to Americans than realistic assessments of the actual state of the union, and President Trump’s SOTU speech was no exception.

President Trump’s speech included moments of optimism and calls for unification, but there were a few “dog whistle” moments.  When the term “dog whistle” is used to describe a political speech the term references coded speech that is shrouded in diplomatic phrasing.  For example, when President Trump said, “Americans are dreamers, too,” he complimented American citizens while diminishing the power illegal immigrants have derived from the idea that they are dreamers.  Not everyone would have heard the dog whistle; but the President may have been attempting to reduce the patriotic appeal of Dreamers by saying that “Americans are dreamers, too.”

In last night’s SOTU address, President Trump promoted his plan for a path to citizenship for 1.8 undocumented immigrants.  The idea of a path to citizenship is extremely unpopular with many conservative Republicans who believe “illegal” means “illegal” and ALL “illegal” immigrants should be immediately returned to their country of origin.  It will be interesting to watch how that moment plays out in the coming days.

President Trump’s mention of prison reform was an obvious gesture to Democrats.  Trump said that America needs to help inmates that have served their time and help them re-enter society for a second chance in life.

With patriotic emotion, President Trump said that the people “dreamed” this country – the people “built” this country – and it is the people who are making America great again.

As uplifting as much of the prose was in the SOTU address, the speech did not take place in a vacuum with no preconceived impressions of the messenger.  President Trump has had a pattern of speaking eloquently about a united America only to alter the thoughts and ideas that inspired many. 

President Trump has delivered false hope in the past, and one can only wonder if what he said in the SOTU address will change after the President gets feedback from the media and those closest to him.  At some point, President Trump needs to show more consistency in what he says and what he follows through on.

It was a very good speech with many positive moments, but words are cheap and those positive moments will be meaningless if President Trump changes the commitments he made in his first SOTU address.

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