2019 State of the Union: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, and Trump is not Acting on Behalf of the ‘American Agenda’


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dylan Yonce, News & Op Ed Editor

On February 5, 2019, President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union in front of a joint session of Congress, on the floor of the House of Representatives.  The speech was intended to be delivered the week prior, but Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, refused to invite Trump to the House until the federal government was reopened.

“We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential.” Trump began his speech, moving to a call for bipartisanship to achieve the goals of the “American agenda”, despite the polarizing rhetoric that has been used throughout his Administration.  Trump spoke on women’s’ issues, the American economy, Mexico, Iran, border security, and immigration, as well as alluding to the Mueller Investigation and Russia probe. Despite Trump’s ‘bipartisan’ rhetoric, the tone in the room was overwhelmingly divided.  On many of the issues that Trump discussed, only republicans stood to clap, as the democrats scowled and remained seated. All of the women from the democratic caucus wore white, to stand in solidarity with all women, and as a celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage.

While the President remained on script and spoke of desires for bipartisanship and unity, Trump’s actions following the State of the Union have been everything but bipartisan.  Friday, February 15th, President Trump declared a National Emergency, despite efforts by democrats and republicans in the House and Senate to create a solution that would end fears of another government shutdown, and provide funding for increased border security.  The US-Mexico border is in need of greater protection, both to control drugs and crime, and illegal immigration, a statement that democrats and republicans across the board agree on. However, the almost $6 billion that Trump requested from Congress is fiscally irresponsible.  

Constant improvements of technology will prove to replace any physical barrier, and will offer the same, if not better levels of security on the southern border. Estimates in 2017 gathered that the wall itself, could cost over $20 billion to construct, not including maintenance.  A virtual wall, made up of drones and other barriers would cost less, and remain cheaper to maintain in coming years. Using modern technology opposed to a physical wall would also avoid the ecological impact of construction in ecologically and biologically diverse areas around the border, the Rio Grande and Rio Grande Valley that already suffer from human development.  

According to The Hill and HarrisX polling, 35 percent of Americans believe that the US would benefit from better border security, but think there are superior options to the wall, while 31 percent of Americans are against the wall completely.  According to NPR, 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Trump declaring a State of Emergency.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As a Montanan, I am particularly opposed to the National Emergency Declaration, because during the 2017 fire season, Trump failed to use available funds to help Montanans in desperate need of aid.  The same applies to fires in the other Northwestern states, as well as California, and those states and territories affected by recent hurricanes. With 16 US States already suing the President, claiming that his declaration is unconstitutional and an abuse of power, Trump faces an uphill battle as he gears up for re-election in 2020, and attempts to fulfill unrealistic and dangerous campaign promises.