Last night, Trump gave his first State of the Union (SOTU) address. In it, he congratulated himself on victories achieved in his first year, and listed the various things he plans to do in the future. True to himself, Mr. President did not forget to share a handful of mistruths surrounding statistics in order to improve his record.
“Just as I promised the American People from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history,” Trump said. According to the Committee for a Responsible Budget, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the 8th largest tax cut in U.S. history. In fact, the GOP tax plan that passed last year doesn’t even qualify as the biggest tax cut of the past decade.
Also, Trump prided himself on the record low Black unemployment rate, saying “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.” The president neglected to add that the unemployment rate among Black people has been dropping for years, as have the rates for other racial groups, according to cnn.com. Thus, he inherited this trend.
During the address, Trump said: “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream — because Americans are dreamers, too.” It’s unfortunate the president will not acknowledge DREAMers, children who had no say in their immigration to the U.S., as seekers of the American dream and contributors to society who are just as patriotic as natural born citizens. Rather, he suggests that Americans cannot be protected or successful if immigrants are to be as well. This is untrue, and borders on xenophobia.
What’s more, Trump offered his help in working with both “Democrats and Republicans—to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed.” For a president who claims to seek bipartisanship in the coming year, dismissing DREAMers was not only divisive, but polarizing as 70% of Americans support allowing them to stay in the country. This revealed Trump’s call for bipartisanship to be a thinly veiled passing of the blame to the Democrats should future dealings end in standoffs.
Nearly 40 million people watched the SOTU address, yet far fewer will read today of just how many mischaracterizations of the truth the president told to his constituents. This cannot become the new normal. Citizens should always be diligent and seek out the facts from various reputable sources, but we should not have to do so following every sentence out of the most powerful politician in the world’s mouth. If last night was any indication of the next three years, its safe to say citizens will have to stay engaged and vocal far past a 90 minute speech.