February 12, 2019 --
In his State of the Union address, February 5, President Trump called for a "new era of cooperation," between his administration and Congress. The president did not threaten another government partial shutdown, but, clearly referring to his plan for a wall on our border with Mexico, he did say, "I will get it built."
The president's guests included a survivor of the anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that took 11 lives, Judah Samet, who also survived 10 months in the Dachau concentration camp. Soon after President Trump noted that the occasion marked "Judah's 81st birthday the members of Congress, softly at first, but gathering strength, sang out "Happy Birthday dear Judah. " This was one of the unscripted moments during the address which suggested that Congress could be united in spite of itself.
President Trump went on to comment, "Think of this Capitol -- think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways to defeat fascism to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire."
The president began the speech, which lasted nearly 90 minutes, by remarking that this year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and 50 years since we planted the flag on the moon, recognizing "two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of American's mission and the power of American pride." He went on to say, "Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure and we must create a new standard of living "
President Trump indicated confidence in his efforts, "After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day." He then reported, "Members of Congress, the State of our Union is strong. Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before."
Earlier in the address, Mr. Trump called for rejecting "the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution" and aiming for "the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good." This aim is certainly consistent with the call in Federalist No. 57 to our leaders establish "communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments" with the people "without which every government degenerates into tyranny." The reply to the president's speech was given by Stacey Abrams, who lost to Brian Kemp in her bid, last November, to be governor of Georgia, and the country's first black woman governor. Although Ms. Abrams insisted that she did not want President Trump to fail, the tone of her remarks carried a partisan tone, blaming Mr. Trump for the shutdown "that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values." She also accused Republicans of passing a "tax bill [that] rigged the system against working people."
While Democrat partisans in the House chamber may have intended to indicate opposition to the president by remaining seated and not applaud his remarks, there are occasions when the tv camera show Democrats.
Most noteworthy, perhaps were images of congresswomen dressed in white silent for much of the speech, but applauding, standing, waving when Mr. Trump cited increased numbers of women in the workforce.
President Trump immediately ad libbed "Don't sit yet, you're going to like this, " and then said that 'there were more women in Congress than ever before." Not only did the women in white applaud his statement, but in addition to the standing ovation that it evoked they chanted "USA, USA, USA. "
This State of the Union address was delivered one week late. It was not clear when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disinvited the president, citing the partial government shutdown, that it would be given in the House Chamber. The very spontaneous moments of comradeship in temporary place of partisanship give hope that the next 21 months can be marked by the new cooperation between a divided Congress and the Trump administration.
At present, the political horizon reveals partisan Democrats looking for ways and means to bring an end to the Trump presidency by making it seem hostile to the spirit of liberty -- even authoritarian.
But Donald J. Trump is not to be compared to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. Mr. Trump declared, in his State of the Union address. "We stand with the Venezuelan people in this noble quest for freedom -- and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair."
President Trump continued, "Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence--not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free and we will stay free. Tonight we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,"
It is asserted from time to time that President Trump is a weak chief executive. It is unclear how a weak president can be a threat to freedom, other than by being so weak that he cannot maintain constitutional liberty. Perhaps his attempts to reach out to a hostile media -- The New York Times in particular -- are misinterpreted as indicating weakness.
LPR submits that a confident president, not weak one, will cite the despair and violence in Venezuela as evils than cannot occur in the USA. It is apparent that the president is influenced by Friedrich Hayek's teaching that socialism is not possible without government coercion.
The spirit of liberty, not coercion. is suggested by these words, at the conclusion of the Trump address, telling the members of Congress "We must choose whether we are defined by our differences -- or whether we dare to transcend them....This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set out sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.
These concluding words are not the words of a hater: "We must keep America in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls, And we must always keep faith in America's destiny -- that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!"