The Garnet Mine

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The State of our Union is… Divided

You can't unify if you seek to divide .

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On Tuesday night President Trump delivered his first state of the Union address- a lengthy speech that claimed to be one of unity. Although the words on the teleprompter may have struck a conciliatory tone, the President’s delivery fell flat due to the fact that many of his pronouncements were in direct contradiction to his past and present actions.

Throughout his political career, Donald Trump has been the definition of divisive. He has disparaged minorities, attacked institutions of justice and free press, and has continued to provide incendiary comments — often in the form of tweets — on a daily basis.

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One of President Trumps most controversial tweets- incorrectly alleging voter fraud. Credit:(BBC)

Even without his divisiveness, the idea that one speech could create a greater spirit of unity, in a place as divided as Washington D.C., is simply a pipe dream. This dream, however, has been made even more unthinkable due to President Trump.

Altogether he gave a well-written speech, aided by guest anecdotes and thunderous GOP applause, behind the facade of the perfect ‘presidential’ speech lies a different story — one of a President whose speech lacked passion and contained glaring contradictions to his own actions.

Throughout the night, the President used a series of inspirational guests to help aid him in his presentation. While this time-honored tradition adds much to the speech, there was an irony to many of his comments.

While talking about the opioid crisis, the President mentioned a New Mexico police officer who had adopted a baby from an opioid-addicted mother.  Although heartwarming, the story did not mask the fact that the President did not lay out a concrete plan for fighting opioid addiction and has still not even filled key positions in the Drug Enforcement Administration. His silence on the issue is so concerning that Democrats are urging an investigation into his inaction on opioids. The irony of the President praising a member of law enforcement is also comical, considering his relentless attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI.

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President Trump and FBI director Christopher Wray . (Credit: Washington Times)

In fact, on the day of his speech, President Trump was at public odds with the FBI Director over whether he should release a controversial Republican memo relating to the Russia investigation — an investigation that he did not mention in his speech, yet it continues to loom over his Administration, with Trump campaign workers and even his former National Security Adviser pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

During the speech, the President also mentioned the story of Seong-ho, a North Korean defector who escaped the brutal regime. While discussing Seong-ho’s story, the President mentioned how he was reunited with his family when they escaped. This statement was only moments after the President vowed to end the process that he referred to as ‘chain migration,’ which he inaccurately claimed allows migrants to easily bring extended family members to the US to be reunited.

This harsh rhetoric on immigration was a central component of the President’s speech, due to the fact that an immigration bill is needed to prevent another government shutdown next week. The reason that immigration and ‘Dreamers’ remain an issue is due to the fact that the President himself would not sign a bipartisan bill last month to extend DACA, thereby avoiding the January shutdown and helping to ensure that Dreamers have a place in the US.

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Dreamers protesting in NYC (Credit: NYT)

Altogether the President’s speech provided nothing more than 90 minutes of applause and bluster with very little substance or sincerity. It was clear from the start that the President was simply reading the teleprompter and that he had very little enthusiasm for what he was saying. Despite his staying on script during his speech, this does not change what he has said and done so far as President, nor does it make him more Presidential. One well-crafted speech does not make a great leader when those words are contrary to the actions.

 

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The State of our Union is… Divided