What Trump didn't say matters most

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On Tuesday, Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address. Many have praised Trump, including Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who stated that Americans are 'coming out of this economic funk that we were in throughout the Obama years'. Political commentator Sean Hannity called the speech 'amazing' and 'inspirational,' adding that 'America is back'.

Donald TrumpOthers were less enthusiastic. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that the president's address merely 'stoked the fires of division instead of bringing us closer together'. Ross Douthat, in the New York Times, writes that Trump's address 'showed what a more successful version of the Trump presidency would look like', but 'there is no sign that Trump is prepared to build bridges where he's burned them, no plan for getting more out of this speech than just a temporary polling bump'.

For many, what Trump did not say is even more telling. He began his address by thanking the American heroes who assisted following natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria. 'To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else — we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.'

The president failed to mention that Puerto Rico is still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Maria, with many Puerto Ricans still unable to attend school or drink clean water. There is no effective trash service and 30 per cent of the country still has no electricity. By the end of January, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will stop giving food and water supplies to Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria swept across the nation, more than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island.

Trump also failed to bring up racial tensions in America. Throughout his first year, he has been criticised for his inability to talk about race in America, from his response to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, to his remarks on NFL athletes who kneel during the National Anthem. Aside from a thinly veiled attack against kneeling athletes, there was no focus on racial tensions in America in his address.

While many have hailed the president's proposed immigration policy, much of it was rooted in the same xenophobic rhetoric Trump employed during the presidential campaign. He described how open borders in America have resulted in the deaths of innocent citizens, highlighting the stories of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, two teenagers who were killed by members of MS-13 in 2016.

'Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again.'

 

"Who, one wonders, does the president label as a 'true American'?"

 

Many have pointed out that much of what Trump stated during his address was false. This includes his claim that the visa program 'randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people'. A high school education and work experience, along with a background check and no criminal record, are required for people applying for these visas.

Trump stated in his address that throughout his first year, 'we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans'. Who, one wonders, does the president label as a 'true American'?

If we are to truly live up to these claims, the president must not ignore the issues faced by immigrants, Americans of colour and countless other marginalised citizens. These are the people who have not only built this country — they are what makes America great.

 

 

Olga SeguraOlga Marina Segura is an associate editor at America. Follow her on Twitter: @OlgaMSegura

 

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Topic tags: Olga Segura, Donald Trump, State of the Union


 

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"Many have pointed out that much of what Trump stated during his address was false." Fact-check: False. Go to the NYT fact-check of Trump's speech linked to by the author of this post. You'll find only 3 of the 19 evaluated "facts" in Trump's speech are labelled "False".
HH | 01 February 2018


Nothing Trump says will ever satiate the Trump-hating Democrats or their allies: Neither the booming economy, nor the jobs created. Even with African-American unemployment now the lowest in history, and Hispanic-American unemployment the lowest in history, the Congressional Black Caucus sat motionless. Who do they represent? America’s most dangerous cities have one feature in common: all are led politically by Democratic mayors, and most have been controlled by Democrats for a long time. Left-wing law-enforcement policies helped breed crime and chaos, and blacks and Hispanics suffer most. After decades of Democratic governance, New York elected Republican Rudy Giuliani in 1994. Between 1993 and 2011, Blacks and Hispanics accounted for a 79% decline in homicide victims; annual rapes declined by 54.8%; robberies fell by 80.3%; felony assaults dropped by 57.8%; and burglaries were reduced by 84.6%. Democrats are thus reduced to hurling insults at opponents: “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it” said Hillary Clinton. Instead of giving the poor and marginalized the dignity of work, Democratic policies seem designed to keep them down on the Welfare-Plantations. Perhaps Nietzsche was correct: “You preachers of equality…your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.”
Ross Howard | 02 February 2018


Ross Howard's knowledgeable and well-researched comment illustrates a most interesting bias -equally strong as those of his 'Trump-hating Democrats". While figures and research give one picture, let me focus for a minute on Language. What we express spontaneously, on Twitter or a TV interview, for example, give a clearer guide to who we are. Having lived and taught in the USA for several years I know how well trained in debate students are. Compare the list of insults Ross Howard ascribes to Hillary Clinton with the number of spontaneous insults delivered by Donald Trump - who has consistently denigrated whole sections of his nation and the world. Does he ever see the human perspective, the moral perspective in these dismissals? Does he see how racists and xenophobes lap them up? Then compare that language to the large number of "motherhood" statements in Trump's speech. He was elected, in part by using these patriotic phrases his listeners wanted to hear. I am not a Trump-hating Democrat, or a left-wing radical, and I am a discerning fan of much of Nietzsche's ideology, but I find Ross Howard's use of Nietzsche's denigrating reference to "preachers of equality" most curious. You are happy that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, are you, Ross? I am a fan also of George Orwell, who illustrated so effectively that if leaders can reduce the language to cliches, and ensure that is all an audience hears, the people lose the power to discern what is true and what is false. I am mystified how Ross Howard can see American politics in such black and white terms. And here I was thinking it is (as in Australia) all shades of grey.
Janice Ham | 02 February 2018


Janice Ham: “I am a fan also of George Orwell, who illustrated so effectively that if leaders can reduce the language to cliches, and ensure that is all an audience hears, the people lose the power to discern what is true and what is false.” The Golden Rule is a cliché. Sometimes you deserve love and sympathy, sometimes a kick up the bum. Which and when? Cliches are unavoidable as they are the efficient units of language for encapsulating meaning. Speakers should learn how to use them. Listeners should learn how to decode them. When we talk, or hear, about the cliché that is the golden rule, do we also factor in the cliché that is ‘tough love’?
Roy Chen Yee | 04 February 2018


“You are happy that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, are you, Ross?” Facts: the wealthy, multinationals, political class and media class all opposed Trump. Wealthy Americans like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and Jeff Bezos, all support liberal causes and the Democratic Party. Liberal foundations like Mellon and MacArthur outspend conservative ones by at least 30:1 each year. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, made $17.4 billion in January alone. In 2013 Bezos purchased The Washington Post newspaper which is now extremely anti-Trump. Why? Trump once said: “Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using the Washington Post for power so that politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed.” Amazon has opposed states’ efforts to have e-commerce companies collect sales tax. Amazon also has a $600 million contract with the CIA, “a serious potential conflict of interest” with “the most secret part of the government.” Nancy Pelosi calls workers’ thousand dollar bonuses “crumbs”, she with a net worth of $120 million. Nietzsche's "preachers of equality" is reminiscent of Orwell on hypocrisy: “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies.”
Ross Howard | 04 February 2018


My comment on the rich getting richer was intended to be applied much more internationally than USA - and yes, I do know that the companies mentioned by Ross Howard operate in global sphere. Excellent research again from Ross Howard from the perspective of numbers. My focus is more on the dangerous use of language which Olga Segura focused on (31 January 2018). We can all name a notorious European leader who came to power on his ability to tell the citizens what they wanted to hear. My sincere thanks, however, for Ross Howard's final quotation from Orwell. It applies superbly well to most spin-obsessed administrations - including Trump's, and much of our own.
Janice Ham | 05 February 2018


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