The Jacket Journal

State of the Union: United or Divided?

A discussion of the State of the Union Address given on February 5th, 2019

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The State of the Union Address is a long practiced, well-known tradition in American government, and this year it seemed to be a speech of healing and unification. I’ve never been in full agreeance with President Trump, considering the countless controversies that surround him, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a composed, eloquent speaker making one incredible point: Choose Greatness.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a composed, eloquent speaker making one incredible point: choose greatness.”

Yes, the saying is quite a cliche but relevant nonetheless. From triumph to empowerment for all, the speech encompassed the progress America has made and the impact which can be seen in the chamber as the camera pointed to prominent men and women; both Black and White, as well as our first Muslim congresswoman.  Trump did not only acknowledge the civil rights progress that has been made but the men and women who worked towards that vision for America. With multiple WW2 veterans in attendance, Trump took time to recognize each one of them for their service to America during D-Day.

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From triumph to empowerment for all, the speech encompassed the progress America has made and the impact which can be seen in the chamber as the camera pointed to prominent men and women; both Black and White.”

However, given the context for the address, Trump did get political. The president began with small remarks undermining Democratic agendas. As the address continued, Trump began discussing the opioid crisis and what it means to America. In doing so, Trump segued into the long-proposed, physical barrier at the Southern Border. Once again, while I disagree with a glorified wall, I do agree with a physical barrier that allows people to go to specific registration points to be admitted into the country after a thorough vetting. To show the effect of illegal immigration, Trump invited a family that fell victim to senseless murders by an illegal immigrant. Debra Bissell, Heather, and Madison Armstrong were in attendance due to their grandparents’, Gerald and Sharon David, deaths. Trump used their story and many others like it to argue for tighter border security. To this point, I’d agree with a physical border.

Along with violent and direct crimes, Trump elaborated on the impact of the opioid crisis as a result of an unsecured border. It is to no one’s surprise that many of the illegal narcotics entering the U.S. has been coming from the Southern border and has caused death and addiction all throughout the states. Kentucky is a notable victim for its opioid abuse and many of those drugs come from illegal sources.

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Another issue the president touched upon was late-term abortion. On January 22 of 2019, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) passed a bill allowing abortions 24 weeks before childbirth. However, “late-term” is often defined as when the fetus becomes developed with vital organs that can indicate pain hence why 43 states ban abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy because of this pivotal development. President Trump openly condemned the move from New York and urged Congress to ban late-term abortions. The argument, which I’d agree with, is that the kids who were not granted the chance of life will never see their dreams and their experiences come to light. While a vague argument, an undeniable one nonetheless.

Trump quickly addressed world developments and the recent termination of the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) with Russia passed in 1987 following the end of the Cold War. Trump had also discussed trade relations with China and the protection of intellectual property and an increase in American manufacturing jobs. As Trump continued discussing trade relations, the president brought up the end of NAFTA, a largely unfair trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S., and the introduction of USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement). The new free trade deal would reciprocate free trade and allow more high paying jobs for Americans and would promote the North American economy.

The address was phenomenal. To everyone’s surprise, at one point or another, everyone was clapping for the accomplishments of the U.S. When Trump addressed the increase in jobs, he mentioned that 58% of those jobs were occupied by women and that since the ratification of the 19th amendment, 102 women hold positions in Congress. A white-coat protest, by the prominent women of Congress, clapped and cheered for their country and a sense of unity could be felt. For the first time, in what felt like decades, unity became a theme within Congress; and how appropriate was it that this theme was found in the State of the Union Address.

For the first time, in what felt like decades, unity became a theme within Congress; and how appropriate was it that this theme was found in the State of the Union Address.”

An address that is known to be controversial and often one-sided finally felt like an American speech. It was an address for America and the promotion of compromise and peace. In my opinion, the speech felt as if it were a remedy for the political turmoil that has muddied the waters of American politics for years. In a sense, it was enlightening. Nonetheless, Trump made it abundantly clear that the Union is a unified body, consisting of all types of people. Trump requested only one thing–the president wants Congress, and the American people, to choose greatness. To make the same sacrifices that those before us made in the name of progress. From the soldiers on the beaches of Ohama to the brave African-American men and women who marched in the streets for equality to the young girl fighting cancer campaigning for childhood cancer research, these are the standards that America must uphold – that standard is freedom.

About the Writer
Jackson Heller, Staff Reporter

Jackson Heller is a junior and enjoys writing. He spends his free time experimenting with music and learning new things; either that or playing games....

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State of the Union: United or Divided?