Responses to State of The Union address vary across America’s political spectrum

Tim Caplan – News Editor

If one thing was clear the morning after President Donald Trump’s second State of The Union address, it was that the reaction of the American people was unclear.

The speech to Congress came just weeks after the temporary end to the government shutdown that was caused by the refusal to sign a budget for the year without inclusion of funding for a southern border wall.

Trump’s speech focused on bipartisanship, immigration, the economy, national security, and a series of individuals whom he felt was necessary to have their achievements highlighted. These included Alice Johnson, a former convict who had her non-violent drug offense sentence pardoned by Trump earlier this year, and a group of World War II veterans who helped liberate a concentration camp as well as a victim of that concentration camp.

A series of CBS instant polls showed that 76 percent of those surveyed approved of president Trump’s speech while 24 percent disapproved. Another CBS poll revealed that 72 percent of viewers approved of his comments on immigration.  

While he received raucous applause from Republicans throughout the night, the Democrats were noticeably unimpressed with the president’s words. Rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D)-NY didn’t clap for a single part of Trump’s speech, signifying the sizeable ideological divide across the two parties.

Trump’s only applause from a majority of Democrats came when he spoke about the fact that 2019 marks 100 years since the constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage in America was proposed, and that there are more women serving in the US Congress than anytime before. This was the lone moment of solidarity that extended across the aisle.

Trump also spoke briefly about the state of Venezuela, coinciding with what he believes is a rising trend in socialist rhetoric in American politics, most likely referring to congress members like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have described themselves as “democratic socialists.”

“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their nobel quest for freedom and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro Regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair. Here in the United States we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free and we will stay free. Tonight we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Noticeably missing from the State of The Union Address was any talk about America’s rising concern over the environment and the increasing national debt. While the environment and climate change are historically Democratic issues, according to the Yale program on climate communication 69 percent of Americans polled are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming.

Trump also made a contentious statement about his relationship with the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, claiming that in his opinion we would currently in a war with North Korea if he hadn’t been elected president.

There were two major responses to the speech came from Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate from Georgia and the independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Abrams spoke about her family values like faith hard work and helping others. She spoke about her vision for a better America and her experiences with workers suffering from the government shutdown. Abrams also spoke about her concerns over voter suppression and the need for economic security in America’s middle class. Senator Sanders response focused on rebuking some of President Trump’s statements including a response to Trump’s statement about socialism and America’s freedom stating “People are not truly free when they can’t go to the doctor when they’re sick.” This was Sanders’ second consecutive response to the State of The Union, however he receives backlash from many Democrats online and in the media for a perceived undermining of the response of Abrams.