Trump’s First State of the Union Address

In marked contrast to his predecessor who loved the sound of “I,” Trump said “We” – a lot. Maybe that’s the reason Trump’s approval rating climbed to its highest level since taking the oath of office a year ago.


By Stephen W. Browne l February 6, 2018

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans: Less than 1 year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People – and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams. That night, our new Administration had already taken swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.”

Something very strange happened at President Trump’s first State of the Union Address last week.

In a nutshell, Donald Trump did everything right and his opponents did everything wrong.
I mean seriously, when does that ever happen? Especially when it would have been so easy for the Democrats to have been gracious and come out with at least a few points.

This may have been the first time in a long time when something actually important happened at the State of the Union address.

Article II Section 3 of the Constitution says the president, “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;”

It doesn’t say this should be a yearly ritual. That precedent was established by George Washington at a time everybody thought our new nation and Washington personally were in big trouble.

President Washington called Congress together and told them no, we’re not. He said we have problems but nothing we can’t handle and asked what other country on earth was as fortunate as we?

That’s what Trump did. He told us we’ve got problems, but we can handle them. And importantly, with examples.

He cited the Cajun Navy, where volunteer Americans with fishing boats ventured out in floods to rescue people. He introduced a young Cop and his wife who adopted the child of an addicted mother and nursed it through withdrawal. A boy who organized a movement to put flags on veterans’ graves. A rural firefighter who saved 60 children. And on a somber note, two couples whose children were murdered by members of the MS 13 gang.

And in marked contrast to his predecessor who loved the sound of “I,” Trump said “We” – a lot.

Maybe that’s the reason Trump’s approval rating climbed to its highest level since taking the oath of office a year ago.

Overall, the staging was perfect. The First Lady arrived separately with the guests rather than ride with Trump and appeared to be on terms of warm familiarity with them, creating the impression they were guests, not props.

The Democrats sat on their hands, never once rising to applaud even the most innocuous non-political parts. And when Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) did rise, his own party conspicuously made him sit down.

Nancy Pelosi sat scowling and looked like she was chewing an unripe persimmon.

Are they clueless? Except in times of war and dire emergency the address is traditionally an exercise in feel-goodism. At best it’s informative, though quickly forgotten.

Nonetheless, following

The Democrat Party response was given by Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy III. The contrast was startling.

Kennedy and others painted a bleak picture of an America in dire straits and a party in power that wants to oppress minorities, like the parents of the murdered children Trump introduced, and steal babies like that cop and his wife.

Since Kennedy is still relatively unknown outside Massachusetts, the media had to explain that he is the grandson of Sen. Robert Kennedy and grand-nephew of President John F. Kennedy. Did nobody see this looks like a dynasty from a quasi-royal family condemning the upstart?

Though Kennedy did praise Americans in general, he referred to them as “they” and not once gave an example of any specific individual.

Responses from the left after the speech have been clueless to the point of absurdity.

“Veiled racism!” like we didn’t know that was going to happen.

What they don’t seem to grasp is, Americans don’t like being told we are racist bigots.

We rather like hearing that we’re pretty decent people on balance; capable, competent, and neighborly.

We like being shown examples of heroism and compassion, and it sells a lot better than Debbie Downer saying we’re all about misery and oppression.

We’re getting the impression Trump likes to tell Americans how “wonderful” they are, and the Democrats love to tell them how awful they are.

This, to put it mildly, is not a winning strategy, which we may see come November, unless they get a clue.


Stephen Browne has been a sewage treatment plant worker, a truck driver, an English teacher and a journalist. In 1991 he received his MA in anthropology and set out for Eastern Europe, which was to become his home for the next 13 years. While teaching English and working with local dissidents abroad he began to write professionally about the tremendous changes happening after the collapse of the Soviet empire. In 1997, he was elected Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. In 1998, he co-founded the Liberty English Camps in Lithuania, which teach the principles of free markets and political liberty through English-language instruction, and eventually became the Language of Liberty Institute. He returned to the U.S. to study journalism on a graduate fellowship and pay some dues in rural newspapers in the Midwest. At present he lives in his native Midwest with his two children Jerzy Waszyngton and Judyta Ilona. Mr. Browne is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

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