The 2018 State Of The Union Was Notable For What Was Left Unsaid

The 2018 State Of The Union Was Notable For What Was Left Unsaid

During the Trump era, the most important thing is to be informed.

There are many reasons why people did not want to watch the 2018 State of the Union at 9 p.m. on Jan. 30.

Many said that they are tired of hearing lies. Others believe that there is no point in contributing to viewership and would read the transcript later. Quite a few are disinterested in the political chaos that our country succumbed to in recent years.

However, there is also a faction of those who did not want to watch because they do not agree with President Donald Trump, and I do not think that is justification.

As someone who staunchly opposes Trump’s rhetoric at every turn and can think of a dozen ways I would prefer to spend a Tuesday night, I also recognize that it is crucial to watch the State of the Union. Yes, the reason I watched was in part because I hope to pursue a career in journalism, and to do so I must be informed, but it is also larger than that.

We cannot expect to form our own opinions if we solely listen to a post-speech analysis. It is crucial to watch these speeches by any president so that we can be aware of what he or she says, how it is said and arguably most importantly, what is left unsaid.

To that last point, Trump spoke in great detail about setting forth on “a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans” and his desire to strengthen border control and immigration. He also spoke of strengthening the economy and creating jobs so more Americans can work and unemployment can decrease.

Theoretically, these concepts are great and would be beneficial to our country. Nonetheless, by watching Trump speak, it became clear that there was more on his mind than these ideas. Also, there was unspoken significance behind his remarks on certain topics.

“Over the last year … We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined … We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul …”

The above quotation is true — American citizens witnessed natural disasters and numerous atrocities in 2017 that were previously incomprehensible. What Trump neglected to mention, though, was the spike in hate crimes and violence that we also witnessed.

In November 2017, BBC News reported, “The number of reported hate crimes in the United States has risen for the second straight year in 2016, according to statistics released by the FBI.” According to BBC News, the FBI found that approximately 58 percent of the crimes were related to “the victims' race, ethnicity or ancestry.”

Likewise, although people will persist that hate crimes are isolated incidents or that they were inspired for reasons other than those listed, bigotry in the U.S. is undeniable. What is more, it may not even be so much a “rise” in hate, but a validation that hate is now acceptable under the current administration.

After all, who was still in doubt after the “Unite the Right” rally from Aug. 11-12, 2017, where white supremacists, Klansmen, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia? The protesters opposed the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue and chanted antisemitic slogans and carried anti-Muslim banners.

Then, in the aftermath, Trump’s response included the statement that there were "very fine people on both sides”, referencing counter protesters who gathered on the second day, which implied that he was sympathetic to the notion of white supremacy.

Unsurprisingly, topics such as Charlottesville were left unspoken, as it was certainly not a nod to the “incredible progress” and “extraordinary success” that Trump attributed to his administration.

“We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.”

As mentioned, the State of the Union was primarily about what Trump did not articulate. Trump mentioned Congressman Steve Scalise from Louisiana, who recovered in three and a half months after being shot in Virginia while practicing with the congressional baseball team.

Likewise, Trump praised “strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip”, referencing the mass shooting that occurred on Oct. 1 during the Route 91 Harvest music festival. The shooting was perpetrated by Stephen Paddock, and resulted in 58 deaths and 851 injuries.

However, Trump’s echoing defense of the Second Amendment only reaffirms the understanding that the current administration will not move to enact laws making it more difficult to purchase firearms. Additionally, in the case of Paddock, they will not reassess laws that enable individuals to purchase bump fire stocks, which made Paddock’s semi-automatic rifles fire as though they were fully automatic weapons.

Most importantly, there was no acknowledgment from Trump that despite his perception that illegal immigrants are the sole terrorists in our country, there are many homegrown terrorists who are responsible for shootings and violence over the last couple of decades in the U.S.

Moving forward, to the second part of Trump’s quote, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the “religious liberty” that Trump is proud to protect. The comment may be overlooked since it was mentioned quickly. However, it was blatant if one is aware of the ABC News report on Jan. 19 that the Trump Administration called to “protect medical providers refusing to participate in abortion, assisted suicide or other procedures on moral or religious grounds.”

Democrats, LGBT organizations and civil liberties groups rejected the action. Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated, “They are prioritizing providers' beliefs over patients' health and lives. This administration isn't increasing freedom — they're paving the way for discrimination."

Lastly, although there is much more to analyze from Trump’s first State of the Union address, we must note his reference to NFL players who kneel before games during the national anthem.

“[Preston Sharp’s] reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”

There is no illusion that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence do not stand in opposition of NFL players who take a knee in protest of police brutality and racial oppression in the U.S. Although his comment was more flagrant than others, he limited his mention of racial tension to the one remark, and continued to overlook the motivation for the peaceful protest.

Overall, the 2018 State of the Union was a greater service to Trump’s ego than an accurate reflection of the last year for our country. He emphasized throughout the address that the U.S. comes together during tragedies and how the country is strong because of its people.

More so, all of his perceived merits do not alter the reality that we are no more unified as a country. Simply observing the chamber, the division was evident based on who stood to applaud Trump and who remained seated with stony expressions.

So, I stand by my original statement: Not watching the State of the Union because one does not agree with the views of the sitting president is not the better alternative. During the Trump era, when facts are labeled “fake” and rhetoric is rampant, the most important thing is to be informed.

It is only through knowledge that we can protect ourselves from illusions or misrepresentations.

Cover Image Credit: NBC News

Popular Right Now

To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.


These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.


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