On the evening of February 4, 2020, President Donald J. Trump addressed the nation in his third State of the Union address since he ascended to the presidency in 2016. This address focused on many key factors that the President has actively been working towards since he was elected. He claimed that “The state of our union is stronger than ever before.” These are three major takeaways from the evening’s speech that should be taken into consideration in the upcoming weeks, months, and even year:
- President Trump Kept His Campaign Promises
Throughout his speech to the nation, Trump made many remarks about how he has been successful in completing many of the promises he vowed to work towards during his Presidency. He spoke of how the border wall he promised in 2016 is being erected, bragging that over 100 miles of new wall has been built and over 500 miles will soon be constructed. This border wall was a key platform piece of his campaign in 2016, and remains to be in 2020. He is reassuring the American people that he has kept his promise and will continue to do so if elected in 2020.
Trump also praised many border officials and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers during his speech. This section of the address received audible booing from many Democrats in attendance and an eruption of cheers from Republicans. President Trump offered condolences to Jony Jones, a man whose brother was attacked and killed by an illegal immigrant. He also praised Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz, a Border Patrol Officer whom the President claimed has been vital in protecting our Southern border from immigrants attempting to illegally cross into the country. The president wants the American people to know he has and always will keep his promises.
- Impeachment was Never Mentioned
In what was an unexpected contrast to the perceived social media buzz, Donald Trump did not acknowledge his own impeachment even in the midst of a likely vote the following day. Sitting in the audience were the seven House impeachment managers deliberately together to the President’s right. This may be because Donald Trump’s main goal of this address was to prove to the American public that he is worthy of another term in office. Republican colleagues in the audience even began a “four more years” chant as the President entered the House Chamber.
- The 2020 Election will Boil Down to the Economy
The President opened his address by mounting what he claimed to be the “Great American Comeback”. As many have assumed, President Trump is very proud of where the United States’ economy lies. He noted that “The unemployment rate for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans has reached the lowest levels in history.” Donald Trump continues to tell the American people how successful he has been in helping the middle class as well. He claimed that the nation was in the midst of a “blue-collar boom,” and that wages were increasing. This is true, but the increase isn’t nearly as dramatic as he may have made it sound. Wages on average have risen faster than inflation; however, wage gains have fallen stagnant in recent months.
Trump also discussed how 7 million new jobs have been created under his presidency and how drastically that counters the “failed growth of the past administration.” The president is avoiding the truth but not explicitly lying. It’s true the rate of job creation and active working fell during Obama’s two terms in office, partly because the population was aging. It has since rebounded this year, but the economy created 11.6 million jobs during Obama’s two terms, and job creation under Trump has increased at a slightly slower rate than Obama’s administration. The President is likely trying to woo voters in the upcoming election.
One thing is for certain, Donald Trump and the Republicans are not necessarily looking to work with the Democrats in the future to get things done. At the beginning of the address, Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a handshake to the President prior to his speech which he subtly ignored. Pelosi then ripped the copy of the address she had been given. Both sides seemed to belittle the other regarding how they handled this interaction. Party polarization is on the rise, and the State of the Union Address showcased just how poor the situation has become.