Trump's State of the Union should scare you
President Donald Trump has a dark vision of a broken nation flooded by murderous immigrants, threatened by terrorists from without — though native-born Americans who commit acts of terror or wreak havoc with guns on their home soil got nary a mention in this State of the Union. Trump sees a country that needs, contrary to nearly every informed assessment, more nuclear weapons, where crime is rampant, man-made climate change doesn’t exist, American policy has put America last, and there’s just an awful lot to be afraid of.
This should surprise no one; it’s the Trump campaign writ large, and broadcast from the rostrum of the U.S. House of Representatives, albeit delivered in calmer tones than the president’s frenzied Twitter feed.
Trump lauded the tax cuts ushered in by the Republican-led U.S. Congress, a passel of reforms that favors the wealthy and throws crumbs to the middle class, claimed credit for jobs numbers that soared under President Barack Obama but have slowed on his watch, economic rebounds he’s had little to do with, and for the heroism of others, a borrowed cloak for the putative patriotism he uses to justify a regressive agenda.
Little actual policy appeared in this speech, but that’s of no matter — policy isn’t this president’s strong suit; he changes with the wind, and policy fervently pitched on Tuesday may be verboten by Thursday.
Investment in infrastructure? Sure. That’s a great idea, and if Trump had chosen to make that kind of productive push in his term’s first months, it could have built the capacity for bipartisan negotiation and compromise in the U.S. Congress. Instead, this president chose regressive immigration policy, and hasn’t looked back.
And his followers don’t care. Trump’s approval rating has careened downhill, but among his base, he’s making America great, again, preserving the traditional systems that placed native-born white Christian heterosexuality atop our demographic pyramid.
Lamentably, a dramatic re-shaping of our immigration system is the policy proposal outlined in this address most likely to advance. While promising a path to citizenship for DREAM Act immigrants, who arrived as children, Trump proposed a set of measures that will restrict legal immigration, ending the visa lottery and replacing it with a merit system, ending family reunification policies — so-called “chain migration” — and, of course, building the wall.
It’s difficult to imagine a maiden State of the Union address more divisive.
We’re on the road to somewhere, folks, and I’m not sure any of us are going to be happy when we get there.
Nancy Kaffer comments on politics for The Detroit Free Press.
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