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Lewis: The State of our Disunion

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Official White House Photo

Timothy Lewis, Staff Writer

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On January 30th, 2018, President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address.  Many prominent figures chose not to attend, such as Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and over 15 Democratic congressmen also chose to abstain.

Predictably, as with anything involving Trump, it was a complete disaster.  A President’s first State of the Union address is supposed to give the nation a summary of what the President has accomplished since their inauguration.  What has Trump accomplished? Well, not much good, that’s for sure.

“Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania. Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives. Thank you, Ashlee. We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He’s here with us too. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.”

Trump began his one hour and twenty-minute long speech with the typical platitudes and drivel, then switched to thanking and honoring those who had sacrificed much for the sake of others.  Trump thanked Ashlee Leppert, a Coast Guard officer who spent over 40 hours saving lives in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  He also thanked David Dahlberg, a firefighter who saved nearly 60 children from perishing in a California wildfire.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room. In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together NOT as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. 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 we were elected to serve.”

Then, Trump began to appeal to bipartisanship. I frankly don’t see how a man who has preached for the last 5 years or so about how “crooked” the Democrats are or how corrupt Hillary Clinton is can, with a straight face, plead for unity.  This is a man who has dedicated to his short time in office to creating as much DIS-unity as possible, as I will go on to discuss.

In January of 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, commonly known as the “Muslim Ban” or “Travel Ban,” which prevented persons from the countries of Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria from entering the United States. Immediately upon release, the order provoked massive outrage: stories abounded of U.S. military translators and foreign students being denied entry as they landed from incoming flights. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling temporarily staying the executive order, much to the joy of civil rights activists and to the dismay of nativists throughout the country.

“So let’s begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our union is strong because our people are strong. And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.”

Trump then had the gall to go on to claim that “the State of our Union is strong.”  How laughable!  Never before has America been so divided in political opinions and values since the likes of the Civil War or race relations in the 60s.  This man, with a straight face, also claimed credit for keeping unemployment, and especially African-American and Hispanic unemployment, at an all-time low.  How interesting! It’s almost as if these numbers are so low thanks to the efforts of the previous Obama administration.

“Unemployment claims have hit a 45 year low. African American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history. Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion dollars in value.”

President Trump bragged about how great the stock market was doing, even, stating that “[it] has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value.”  Does anyone else remember the last year Republicans had control of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches?  It was in 1928.  Remember what happened after the stock market kept breaking “record after record?”  I think it was called something like “the Great Depression.”  Yet, people with no idea of how economics work continue to judge the health of a nation by how well its stock market is performing.

“Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the Middle Class and small businesses. To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 dollars earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit. A typical family of four making $75,000 dollars will see their tax bill reduced by two thousand dollars — slashing their tax bill in half.”

He next continued to brag about his party’s achievements in passing the latest tax reform bill.  Trump claimed that the tax cuts “provide tremendous relief for middle class and small businesses.”  What was conveniently left out was how the tax bill and its passage have been a complete and utter circus. Congress was given about an hour to read the massive 500-page bill, which gives huge benefits to the already absurdly wealthy individuals and corporations that continue to plague America. The Republican party was again performing its great deception whenever they get to pass a budget. First, they issue massive tax cuts to the richest Americans and provide token cuts to the middle and lower classes.  Next, they complain about how awful the national debt is becoming, which they just added to by passing said cuts.  Finally, they fear monger about the rising debt they just created and use it as an excuse to cut essential aid programs like Medicaid and welfare. This time, of course, was no different: despite planning to be the “only Republican candidate who doesn’t want to repeal Medicare,” Trump has done nothing to fulfill his campaign promises to American senior citizens.

“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is ‘In God We Trust.’ And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.”

Next, Trump appealed to his evangelical voters by claiming that “we know faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. Our motto is ‘in God we trust.’”  How very like Republicans to disparage those without a loving family to turn to or those who have found no need for their corrupted brand of Christianity. Jesus would be rolling over in his grave (or lack of one, if you believe in that) if he saw that American Republicans have been doing to the poor.  In Matthew 19:21, Jesus tells a wealthy individual to “…go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  What have Republicans done but pull a reverse-Robin Hood and take from the destitute and give to the already wealthy? I suppose Trump is running the government like he has his past businesses: driving it to bankruptcy of the moral kind.  Unwavering trust in our military and police?  I hope I don’t even have to spell out the fascist sentiment in this line of thinking.

“We are defending our second amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.”

The President also felt the need to comment on his administration’s efforts to “[defend] our Second Amendment and [take] historic actions to protect religious liberty.”  Tell me, Mr. President, how many mass shootings must America suffer until laws are passed restricting firearms?  How many more Vegases? Sutherland Springs? I find it rather inconsiderate to on one hand praise the bravery of those who sacrificed life and limb during these shootings but on the other spout jingoistic and chauvinistic drivel about how great guns are. And, of course, he had to comment on religious liberty.  You see, “religious liberty” is a codeword among Republicans and homophobes (excuse the redundancy) that means the “right to discriminate against gays.”  Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, is quite well-known for this type of behavior, having made sure Indiana is a place as welcoming to gays as Mississippi is. He promotes the use of torture methods, commonly known as “conversion therapy,” in order to punish homosexuals for defying their interpretation of a book that half of Americans don’t even believe in.

Trump has committed his past year in office to a variety of things: golfing during natural disasters, calling Mexicans rapists and overall sowing disunity and allowing a pseudo-fascist cult of personality to arise from the darkest corners of the internet.  He has redoubled his efforts to further divide America along almost every line possible, be it socioeconomic class, race, gender, sexuality and even age. It is our duty as American citizens to not only oppose this growing division but to vow to ourselves to never allow these prejudiced attitudes and disregard for our fellow humans to ever become a socially acceptable practice.

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