Can Trump’s State of the Union address bridge partisan gap?

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/6 18:30:40

US President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at 9 pm EST on Tuesday. According to US political tradition, the State of the Union address is the summary of the US president's political achievements as well as declaration of domestic and foreign policies. Mostly, it's a time for the president to boast about his contributions. Trump continued the tradition and his sharp, overconfident personal style. 

It is an important moment to see how the White House operates and the state of the US. This year, the speech, which was originally scheduled for January 29, was postponed a week due to the partial US government shutdown. "Choosing greatness" and "unity" were selected as the themes of the address. Trump obviously expected to reach a compromise and cooperation between Republicans and Democrats through the speech, so as to realize his blueprint to make America great again.

In his speech, Trump claimed "the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world… our economy is the envy of the world. Our military is the most powerful on earth." But in today's US political arena, unity is becoming the scarcest political resource. The US-Mexico border wall is hard to promote, the government shutdown set a record and almost all mainstream media unanimously stood against the president. 

Americans should unite behind Trump's political achievements. Mediocre achievements are not enough. There must be certain outstanding performance that can win everyone's praise. In the speech, Trump focused on the economy. The country created 600,000 new manufacturing jobs over the past two years. "The US economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office…unemployment has reached its lowest level in over half a century," noted Trump. 

Although Trump said "victory is not winning for our party, victory is winning for our country," Democrats are seeing different data. Some media elites claimed that the short-term success was achieved through borrowing money, reminding Trump that the US now faces a $1 trillion deficit, which will have to be paid back by future generations. 

According to a poll released by the Pew Research Center before the State of the Union address, although Americans consider the economy as the issue which concerns them the most, only 40 percent believe that the economic situation has improved since Trump took office. 

The reality Trump is facing is that the prospect for "unity" does not look promising. The US is still deeply divided, and it's becoming more difficult to bridge the differences the two parties faced over the past two years. Compromise, the most important element of the bipartisan system, is rarely seen. With the approaching next general election, Washington will see fiercer political wrestling. The Pew poll also said that 71 percent believe that the differences between the two parties will grow this year. 

Trump mentioned China in his speech. Although he mainly talked about trade policy, he linked it to politics. He mentioned the tariffs the US currently imposed on Chinese goods and called on China to make a "structural change" to reduce the US trade deficit and protect American jobs. In general, Trump supports the consensus on trade Beijing and Washington have reached so far. 

Over the past year, China and the US have significantly changed their perceptions of the other side. Although the Republican and Democratic parties' positions on China are different, the differences are much smaller than on other political issues. Washington is doing everything to contain China. In the foreseeable future, China-US relations will move forward amid conflicts and frictions. Although the intensity may vary, the two countries will compete against each other in many fields. Washington will focus more on China's political system. There will still be cooperation, but the two sides will only seek ways to cooperate based on the new cognition. 

Trump also boasted about his diplomatic achievements—from withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to the forthcoming second meeting between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam. However, how can the US, which is more inclined to act arbitrarily, create a united world? 



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