A Conservative’s Take on the State of Our Union

Addressing the 2019 State of the Union alongside the Democratic and Independent responses


As some of you may know, President Trump gave his 2019 State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Feb. 5. This address was an extremely positive and upbeat speech in which the president addressed all of the progress that has been made in the country within the past year and since the time of his election.

   President Trump claimed that many of his policies have shaped this nation for the better, and he announced new plans with which he wished to expand on American well-being. A few of the policies and issues he called to attention during his hour-and-a-half long address include “the creation of a 21st century standard of living,” “unprecedented economic boom,” criminal justice reform, the United States becoming the global leader in production of oil and natural gas, the state of the healthcare industry, and of course, immigration.

   For those of you interested in the well-being of the nation, my first piece of advice would be to watch the State of the Union. If you do not watch the State of the Union and have opinions concerning the direction in which the country is headed, then you are doing a disservice to not only yourself but your fellow Americans, as well. I also highly suggest watching the responses by both the Democratic representative, Stacey Abrams, as well as the independent response by Senator Bernie Sanders.

   After taking comprehensive notes over the SOTU itself, alongside both Abrams’ and Sanders’ responses, I can assure you that our nation is not headed in the right direction as the President would like us to believe. President Trump has drawn attention to some significantly positive changes in the country throughout the past year.

  There are more workers now than ever in our country’s history. Unemployment is at the lowest rate it has been in in half a century. Disabled and minority unemployment rates are the lowest we have seen in American history. Five million people are off of food stamps.

   These, of course, all sound extremely positive. But upon further investigation, it is easy to see just how skewed these statistics are in relation to the national economy. It becomes very evident of just how much the 2019 SOTU was a “puff piece” used to draw popularity to the president and his administration. For every positive result of Trumpian policy, there are countless examples as to why his leadership is prolonging the destruction of our country that has been occurring for the last eighteen years. I use the term “Trumpian,” because President Donald Trump is not a conservative but more so a radical, right-wing nationalist and a corporatist.

   In a way, I was more impressed by Sanders’ and Abrams’ response to the SOTU than I was to the president’s address, itself. I may not agree with either of their platforms on how to implement policy to correct the issues that we, as a nation, face, but I commend their ability to address these issues that are turning our country down a dangerous path.

   Abrams drew significant attention to the current division that not only American politics, but American society, faces today. “We may come from different sides of the political aisle, but our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable,” she said, concerning the ongoing battle over immigration policy in our country. This statement shows a much-needed sense of cooperation over the equally needed immigration reform that caused the 35-day government shutdown during this most recent holiday season.     

   She drew attention to the crisis facing American education and climate change, topics that were completely untouched by the president. Until Democrats come to realize that illegal immigration causes more harm to our national economy than good, and until Republicans realize that building a wall or denying scientific evidence concerning climate change can never solve our problems, we, as American citizens, will continue to tread the waters of political instability and corruption.

   Sanders’ response in particular resonated heavily with me. The well-being of our nation’s economy plays such a vital role in the legitimate state of the Union, itself. Watching the president’s SOTU address, one would think that the economy is doing wonderful. This might be the case if you are a part of the extremely lucky top 20 percent. For the other 80 percent of the nation, the same cannot be said. The United States has more wealth and income inequality than any other country on Earth. This was addressed by Senator Sanders but is also defended by Inequality.org. The United States has the highest number of children living in poverty in the developed world. Life expectancy in the United States has gone down for the third year in a row. This is nothing less than an absolute shame and embarrassment.

   To put our income inequality into more relative terms, three people own more than half the wealth in the country. Three people earn as much as 160 million Americans. The top one percent of the nation now earn 46 percent of all new income in our economy. The top 25 Hedge fund managers on Wall Street made nearly twice as much income last year as all 140 thousand kindergarten teachers in our country. The top five wealthiest people in the country have increased their wealth by 100 billion each since President Trump’s election in 2016.

   Pair those numbers with these. 43 percent of households cannot afford to pay for housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation, or communication without going into debt. There are around 40 million people living in poverty in this country. 34 million cannot afford basic healthcare. One out of every five people cannot afford prescriptions from their doctors. The national economy might be growing, but not for the middle class. Inflation has risen 1.2 percent in the last year. Real wages are lower today than they were almost 50 years ago. All of these figures are addressed by Senator Sanders, in response to President Trump’s disappointingly irresponsible silence.

   We may have one of the strongest economies in the world, but not for the people that really matter… not for the people that make up this nation. Those people are hurting. Those people are struggling. You can see it everywhere you look. You can see it in the crumbling infrastructure. You can see it in the school teachers who have to work two jobs outside of devoting their lives to the future of our country You can see it in the youth, hundreds of thousands not being able to afford the price of higher education and even more struggling with ridiculous levels of student debt that they will pay off for the rest of their lives. You can see it in the run-down small towns all across this state and country.

   The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sanders quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “This country has socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.” I could not agree more. These are not the results of “Republican” or “Democratic” policy. These are the results of political and corporate corruption. These are the results of the American people’s inability to come together and see that everyone is hurting, not only themselves. We, as a nation, are headed in a dangerous direction. Until we learn to cooperate, until we learn to address the sources of these problems and cooperate to find solutions that help everyone, we will continue down this track of failure… either that, or perish.