What We Learned From President Trump’s State Of The Union Address
President Trump delivered his State of the Union address to a split Congress for the first time Tuesday night. Topics like border security, immigration, abortion and health care dominated his address. There was even calls for unity among both Democrats and Republicans as he outlined bipartisanship policies like criminal reform and infrastructure improvements. Yet during his 1 hour, 22 minute speech, one of the longest on record, President Trump used his address to blast Democrats and rev up his political base. Here are the biggest takeaways from the State of the Union.
The president will not back down on a border wall.
In his State of the Union speech, President Trump described illegal border crossings as a “urgent national crisis.” In fact, Illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades, as we wrote in January. https://t.co/qxzIeW2OIL
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) February 6, 2019
With just 10 days left to avoid yet another government shutdown, President Trump spoke adamantly about his mission to secure a wall along the U.S. southern border. “I will get it built,” Trump said. “Walls work, and walls save lives.” Yet most of his claims about immigration and border wall security were either greatly exaggerated or false all together. Illegal border crossings have only declined in the past two decades while reaching their lowest point back in 2017 since 1971. He also made claims about drugs “pouring” into the country due to ineffective borders yet the huge majority of drugs are seized at ports of entry, not along the open border.
Immigration continues to be a divisive issue in the country.
Despite President Trump's State of the Union remarks about immigration and crime, four academic studies in 2018 show that illegal immigration doesn't increase the prevalence of violent crime. https://t.co/oXhB8KClN3 pic.twitter.com/TxSNtB3H9j
— NPR (@NPR) February 6, 2019
President Trump attempted to correlate illegal immigration and violent crime during his address but many in the Democratic side say this is just not true.
“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans,” Trump said during his address.
According to NPR, studies show that illegal immigration doesn’t increase the prevalence of violent crimes. Studies show that native-born residents are more likely to be convicted of a crime than were immigrants in the country lawfully or unlawfully.
The President also mentioned, “large, organized caravans” coming to the U.S. but failed to provide any information on the claims. In January, a new caravan of migrants from Central America was expected to come north but many now plan to remain in Mexico. This is large part thanks to policies put in place by the new Mexican government that will supply job opportunities while they wait to seek asylum.
President Trump took aim at New York’s landmark abortion law.
— TIME (@TIME) February 6, 2019
Just last month, lawmakers in New York passed a new law expanding abortion rights in the state on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The law would protect access to the procedure until 24 weeks of pregnancy in an effort to standardize abortion protections if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned. Trump made the call on Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit what he called “late-term abortion”. His remarks further intensify the controversial issue versus “pro-life” and “pro-choice” advocates. Abortion is expected to be an issue that Trump has said he plans to focus on during the 2020 election.
Women are getting all the headlines.
— TIME (@TIME) February 6, 2019
While President Trump spoke about the number of women benefiting in the economy, it was the number of women, particularity in the Democratic side, who grabbed the headlines.
“All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before …and exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before,” Trump said.
Many Democratic congresswomen were wearing white as a sign of solidarity and in honor of the suffragists. But after Trump made his remarks about the great number of women elected to Congress, they began to cheer and applaud the historic significance.
“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Trump said jokingly. Cameras focused in on new high-profile additions to Congress on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who gave high fives all around. It was one of the rare bipartisan moments throughout the entire address.
The address in many ways was a kick-off to the 2020 election.
"Last night was vintage strategic Trump": 3 political experts weigh in on Trump's 2nd State of the Union address, and what it could mean for the 2020 election. https://t.co/PHtK8Bwwiw pic.twitter.com/4I8KiuRyVG
— CNBC (@CNBC) February 6, 2019
As President Trump aspires to be a unifying political leader he will need to address more than just concerns of his own base. Issues like global warming and increasing antisemitism among minority groups were either not talked about at length or ignored all together during his address. The president was elected with less than a majority of the popular vote in 2016 and has yet to made a concerted effort to expand his base in the two years since taking office.
The 2018 midterm election showed cracks in his base starting to form as Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives and now must work with a divided congress. President Trump may have used the State of the Union as an opportunity to broaden his base perhaps one last time before the campaign for the 2020 election begins. If he is to gain new supporters, it’s going to take a lot more than just speaking to his base.