By Cameron Stuart | Radio Director
President Donald Trump gave the annual State of the Union address in Washington Tuesday, a speech delayed nearly a month due to his government shutdown that ended on Jan. 25, addressing topics ranging from bipartisanship to abortion to national security.
The State of the Union as we know it has only been around since 1947, according to the U.S. House of Representatives. Andrew Clayton, part-time lecturer of political science, said he saw the speech as a chance to show Trump’s desire to unify the nation.
“The beginning and the end of the speech was very uplifting,” Clayton said. “I think the speech was some of the most powerful rhetoric Trump has ever used in trying to unite the nation.”
One of Trump’s main focuses was reiterating America’s proposed need for a wall to seal the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump cited decreases in illegal immigration in San Diego and El Paso due to improved border security, even adding the statement: “walls work and walls save lives.”
The border issue has created a stark divide between republicans and democrats in Washington, specifically between Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Hoffman Estates, Ill. freshman and Baylor Democrats vice president Zach Tufenkjian said he thought Pelosi’s resolve was a great look for the party.
“[Pelosi] stood her ground for the democrats as a whole and she supported the unity President Trump was going for,” Tufenkjian said. “The further Trump pushes for the wall, the less compromise I think we will see.”
Portland, Ore. senior and chapter chairman for the Baylor College Republicans Eric Soo said he sees illegal immigration as more of an economic issue rather than a social issue.
“Illegal immigration takes a huge social strain on the economy,” Soo said. “When they only pay income taxes but no others, they get a free apartment, free healthcare, and qualify for food stamps. Illegal immigrants take way more out of the cause than they put in, and Trump is bringing attention to that.”
Trump also used the stage to address the issues of bipartisanship since he assumed the office in January 2017. He alluded to the current investigation of his administration regarding potential Russian tampering with his election, calling it a “ridiculous partisan investigation.”
“It’s entirely partisan,” Soo said. “We had Obama wiretapping his campaign, CNN ran articles the day before [the 2016 election] saying ‘why the election couldn’t be hacked’ and then the day after saying ‘what you need to know about the election being hacked.’ It is almost like a meme at this point, really.”
Tufenkjian said he believes that the investigation has not been compromised by any supposed bias.
“Well, it was handled by a special prosecutor in a fair and balanced way with indictments coming out of it,” Tufenkjian said. “Yet he has called it a ‘witch hunt’ in the past.”
Another major announcement came with the confirmation that he will be holding a second nuclear summit with Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28.
“There is no doubt that adding this second meeting to his first meeting — that this is historic,” Clayton said. “But it takes two players to make these kind of agreements work and here I don’t think Trump is the wild card, it will always be the North Koreans.”
The moment that garnered the most applause was when Trump cited statistics on women in the workforce. Trump said that women filled 58 percent of the new jobs in America within the past year. There are more women in the workforce than at any point in U.S. history and more women in Congress than at any point in our nation’s history, according to CNN. Trump received a standing ovation from a group of female lawmakers dressed in white which made up nearly an entire section of seats in the senate chambers.
“It was a great moment for women across the United States,” Clayton said. “I think he was congratulatory and genuine, I think it was a great moment for President Trump.”
Not everyone, however, was convinced the moment was one of unity between Trump and his opposition.
“It was a brief moment of unity there,” Tufenkjian said. “But they weren’t clapping for the president, they were clapping for themselves for their accomplishments.”
Trump’s speech, according to the Washington Examiner, was the second longest State of the Union address in history, clocking in at 82 minutes.