“Between Greatness and Gridlock”: Takeaways from the State of the Union


Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

President Trump during the State of the Union address on Tuesday

Grace Fiori, Senior Editor

On Tuesday, February 5th, President Trump delivered his State of the Union address. It was debated for weeks whether the tone of speech would be one of unity or whether Trump would use the platform to declare a State of Emergency in an attempt to build a wall along the southern border. However, Trump began the speech introducing his plea for unity in American politics and society, with a choice, “between greatness and gridlock”.

Connecting to his popular 2016 campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, Trump reinforced that, “Tonight I ask you to choose greatness”. Such a phrase seemed to resonate with those assembled, as next week on Friday, January 15th, the three-week extension for government funding runs out. This could possibly shut down the government again as partisan disagreements rage on. On both sides of the political spectrum members of Congress have been calling for compromise, the memory of the 35 day government shutdown still fresh in the minds, and with federal workers still dealing with the effects.

A focal point during the 82 minute speech was the current economy, with President Trump touting that in the past two years the administration had added 5.3 million new jobs, specifically creating 600,000 new manufacturing jobs in America. 

President Trump promised to fight for blue collar workers and minorities. He cited an all time low unemployment rate for those with disabilities, lifting 5 million Americans off food stamps, and a workforce 157 million strong, with wages rising at the fastest pace in decades.

While Trump began with a strong message of unity, attempts to connect back to national security visibly divided those assembled. He returned to his rhetoric for border security, focusing on measures to tighten restrictions on illegal immigration. Trump repeated his message for a border wall along Mexico and again referenced the migrant caravans that have been traveling to the Southern American border.

President Trump also referenced the “partisan investigations” conducted, reporting findings that resulted in the indictment of multiple former members of Trump’s administration, but there was a notable lack of focus on the investigations of Robert Mueller.

The speech, was the third longest in the history of State of the Union Address, totaling 1 hour and 22 minutes. It contained an attempt to unify the nation and simultaneously connect with his base, but it remains to be seen the actual measures taken, especially as 2020 election campaigns begin and the government faces another shutdown.