No, Donald Trump. The state of our union is not strong. You have demonized for three years the voters in 2016—a majority of all who turned out–who thought that anyone other than you would be an infinitely better choice. You have lied incessantly and knowingly in order to undermine the stability of facts and the possibility of truth. Remember when you admitted that you made up facts about the trade deficit with Canada in an official exchange with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?
In addition to agreeing with Richard Nixon who opined to television interviewer David Frost, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” you have tried to enshrine that untruth in the Constitution, asserting “Article II allows me to do whatever I want.” It doesn’t of course. It doesn’t liberate you to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight. You should not feel it encourages you to promote racist violence and countenance police brutality. It certainly does not permit you to invite foreign agencies to meddle in American elections on your behalf.
The State of the Union Address
The State of the Union address is the annual message required by Congress from the President. Originally it was a written report. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson spoke directly to the assembled members of Congress. In modern times, certainly since I started watching the speeches in the Nixon administration, presidents have but the best spin on the previous year and the work they and their appointees and supporters in Congress have done. It is what one expects. I have frequently found their claims specious and dubious, but I have never sat in my living room and screamed out “You lie!” as Rep. Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina did to President Barak Obama on September 9, 2009, when Obama addressed a joint session to outline his proposal for reforming health care. (It is ironic, to say the least, that his own constituents hurled the same accusation back at him in 2011. One wonders what they might say today.)
The Trumpian View
You, Donald Trump, see the SOTU address only as the bully pulpit that amplifies your lies because, for whatever reason, members of the GOP continue to claim that your words can be believed and your basket of deplorables appears to truly believe that any and all of your utterances can and should be trusted.
Looking toward November 3, 2020
As I listen to the final speeches before the vote in the Senate leaves Trump in office, I have that sick feeling I had in 2016, long before the election. I am wrapped in that consuming darkness that befell me when the voice on Morning Edition on NPR announced that the Trump had indeed won the election. I hear myself saying “fuck, fuck, fuck fuck, fuck…” and knowing that despite my husband’s consolation that “it will be okay,” it would not be okay, and it hasn’t been okay. Or even just bad. It has been horrifically, unimaginably, devastatingly destructive to our country, to our social fabric, to our environmental health, our economic stability, and our faith in the decency and integrity of government itself. The Trump administration, both the official one and his covert surrogates operating in Saudi Arabia and Ukraine, have destroyed the international alliances that offered at least some possibility of a hopeful future.
There was the debacle of the app intended to facilitate the tallies at the Iowa caucus. There is the circular firing squad to which some Democrats, most notably Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and occasionally Elizabeth Warren seem loathe to break up. The trolls and conspiracy theorists from the lunatic left seem hell-bent on ensuring the ultimate failure of any candidate not the one whom they have embraced.
All of this is making me sick at heart, worried that a poor voter turnout will drive a Republican victory in the electoral college and guarantee Trump coronation as “Dear Leader” or “Führer” or “President for Life.” Sick that the rule of law and the commitment of the Constitution to democratic ideals has been entombed by the GOP.