By David Todd McCarty
n every State of the Union speech for the last half a century, the President has at some point intoned the words, “The State of the Union is ___________” and then filled in the blank with some positive remark. They never say “divided” or “shakey” as the speech is generally used to try to bring the country together. But those days are likely far behind us. In the last few decades, the speech has become a rallying cry for the party whose President is in power, and a drab affair for the party out of power.
The past few administrations have seen a polarization that has gotten deeper and wider with every passing year, and consequently there has been fewer and fewer opportunities to actually achieve any sort of bi-partisan support for much of anything.
Enter our current President, who already treats all public speeches as if they were a campaign rally, and speaks almost entirely to what he considers his base. He paid lip service to ending partisanship and finding common ground, but gave no answers as to how that might be achieved. He talked about issues such as lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and investing in infrastructure; issues that could be expected in normal times, to receive popular, bipartisan support, but he provided no plan on how to achieve that.
Mostly what President Trump did was what this President always does, and that is to brag about his achievements, either real or perceived, exaggerated or misplaced.
More than a few Democratic congressmen and women boycotted the speech altogether, including at least one Supreme Court Justice. Millions purposely turned off their televisions or watched other programming in protest. Hundreds of millions more didn’t bother to watch at all due to complete lack of interest.
I think the President should address the nation regularly and especially in times of trauma or need, but this ridiculous pageantry and waste of resources has gotten out of control. Who knows how many government man hours went into preparing for and writing this speech.
It’s time to kill the State of the Union address.