On Tuesday, February 6, President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union Address—giving the American people an update on the country and his presidency. This follows Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s request the previous week that he would delay his speech until the longest government shutdown in U.S. history came to a conclusion. While an official budget deal has yet to be agreed upon, the government is temporarily up and running again until the next deadline, February 15.
President Trump discussed everything on Tuesday night: healthcare, criminal justice, border security, the economy, abortion, diplomacy, and the like. The President covered the current state of the country, what his administration has done and is currently doing for the country and its constituents, and the direction in which he wants to take the remaining portion of his presidency in. According to his address, his vision for the United States can be summed up in one word: unity.
Yes, Donald Trump, whose supporters and enemies alike know as blunt, dedicated (or, to some, stubborn), and most definitely polarizing, envisions the future of his presidency as full of great strides for unity and cooperation across the aisle. Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, tensions are still high between Trump and Pelosi. She urged him to postpone his speech and keep it; he postponed her flight to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan in a letter (although she can fly commercial if that is her “prerogative”).
Considering the longevity of the government shutdown over the issue of funding a wall along the Southern U.S. border as both President Trump and House Democrats refuse to budge on their respective opinions, governing “not as two parties but as one Nation” seems far from feasible. Partisan differences have caused tension since the Founding Fathers divide themselves into federalists and anti-federalists. This tension is as American as fireworks on the Fourth of July, and yet the divide seems to grow more and more daily.
So how can we form a “more perfect,” unified country? President Trump hoped to do that by celebrating 2019 as the year we can “bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.” As President Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The sentiment stands even if the context is different.
I want to believe 2019 is the year we close our mouths and open our hearts and ears to each other. However, I don’t think a name-calling president, begrudgingly clapping house speaker, or vulturous news outlets can get us there. Rather, I believe it is a grassroots movement that can start with our generation—a passionate, yet fed up generation. If we want change to happen, we have to be willing to alter our own thought processes and habits. We have to be willing to fall down and get back up; we have to be willing to pick each other up as well. I truly hope we can shift the paradigm that we have to be enemies, but we have to take initiative.