The 2019 State of the Union


Rebecca Dannemiller, Student Journalist

The State of the Union is traditionally an opportunity for the President to discuss his or her legislative goals for the next year and provide an outline for how he or she wishes to proceed. Although there is no mandate requiring that the event be publicized, that has been the tradition since the 1960s. The President is required by Article II of the United States Constitution to “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” In other words, at least once a year, the President is required to speak to Congress and divulge their legislative vision for the country. Traditionally, speeches last about an hour, though most of the speech is spent being interrupted by applause from the audience, which includes Senators, Representatives, and invited guests who reflect or have personal connections to the issues the President is discussing.

The 2019 State of the Union Address was centered around bipartisan compromise and unification. The speech, however, contained references to a number of issues that Democrats and Republicans are known to be intensely divided over, including late-term abortions, the border wall, and federal investigations. These topics undermined the theme of cooperation that Trump was aiming for. Not all of the topics in his speech were divisive in nature, however; Trump made a point to discuss healthcare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and changing sentencing laws that affect African-Americans at disproportionate rates.

This year’s address reflects characteristics of the Trump administration as a whole: muddled and often hypocritical. Though Trump made a point to call for bipartisanship and to stop “the politics of revenge”, much of his 2016 campaign was based on belittling others. Furthermore, Trump’s references to the historic year women have had, particularly in Congress, was undermined by his ad-libbed “you weren’t supposed to do that”, referring to the women who beat out Trump’s Republican compatriots in many swing states in the 2018 midterm election. This State of the Union Address, however, just goes to show that Donald Trump is nowhere near slowing down.