Trump Pushes Unity in First State of the Union Address

Sophia Belshe, Editor-in-Chief, Opinion Editor

Last night, Republican President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address last night, focusing on unity and emphasizing successes from his first year as president.

“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people,” Trump said, to applause from Republicans.

Democratic leaders who’ve criticized his policies and messaging sat straight-faced in their seats for most of the speech.

He emphasized infrastructure early in his speech, laying out a $1.5 million plan to “give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.”

Immigration was a big topic as well, as Trump proposed a bipartisan plan where “nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.”

Following trends set by earlier presidents, Trump used his address to boast his first year accomplishments, citing job growth, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the rollback of regulations, a $1.5 trillion tax cut, the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and historic gains in the stock market.

His speech comes at a time when Congress is locked in an intense debate of the fate of DACA “dreamers.” The president addressed this last night, using his time to emphasize his proposal to grant them legal status, including a path to citizenship, in exchange for additional border security and the building of a wall on the border with Mexico.

“It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century,” Trump said. “So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, religion and creed.”

This proposal has not been popular with Democrats, who see it an an unacceptable grant of amnesty.

Trump did stay uncharacteristically on script, sticking to the teleprompter through his 80-minute speech, the longest since former President Bill Clinton’s 2000 address.

The president avoided some of the more controversial events of the year, such as the Russia investigation and Me Too movement.

Throughout the speech, he also addressed Israel, North Korea and the fate of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy gave the Democratic response shortly after the conclusion of Trump’s address, strongly criticizing Trump and his administration.

“Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark,” Kennedy said. “But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”

The full texts of Trump’s address and Kennedy’s response are available.