President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union Address this week with words suggesting an effort on his part to draw political leaders closer together in unity at the White House and on Capitol Hill. It didn’t work.
With the nation facing yet another government shutdown, just days after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, Trump maintained his position to secure funding for “a new physical barrier, or wall,” on the U.S. southern border, he said, to address a crisis that many have called unfounded. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that a new approach to immigration is needed, but the proposal for $5.8 billion Trump says is necessary to build a wall is untenable, especially without a plan to address the status of young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, which the Democrats want.
Trump wants to make a deal, and on several issues, bipartisan support is clearly in the cards. Affordable health care, lower costs for prescription drugs and no penalties for preexisting conditions are a shoo-in. Criminal justice reform beyond the first step taken to pass the First Step Act, is another unifier, especially when Trump surmises that “sentencing laws have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community.” Keep on stepping, Mr. Trump. Another deal is undoubtedly in the cards. The same for paid family leave, repairing the nation’s infrastructure and creating more significant opportunities for women, all of which are steps in the right direction.
Yet, Trump’s view of America seems different from what so many Americans experience. He continues to praise himself for achieving one of the lowest unemployment rates for African Americans, Latinos and Asians, while refusing to realize how many Americans have fallen below middle-class status due to policies he promotes that primarily benefit the wealthy.
Responses to Trump’s speech were not complimentary, not even from members of his own party. As a messenger, Trump fails, but it is his actions we will be watching. If he wants unity, he should take heed to the NAACP: “We challenge him to match his call for unity with real actions that demonstrate his new commitment to such a task.”