BIPP: President Trump’s State of the Union falls short

Trey Gaither, BIPP Intern

On Feb. 4, 2020, President Donald Trump emerged into the chamber of the United States House of Representatives and prepared to give the third and final State of the Union speech of his term. As he waltzed down the red carpet to assume his position behind the podium in front of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, the President received roars and chants of glory; the room exploded with audience members chanting, “Four more years, four more years,” then switching to, “46,” insinuating that the President will win the next election and become the “46th” President of the United States. The President assumed his position and delivered copies of his speech to both Pelosi and Pence. Followed by the exchange, America witnessed the President refuse the gift of a handshake from Speaker Pelosi, increasing the applause from the House. The audience members were obviously entertained, so the President did what he always does best: he gave the people a show.

The President began his speech with his interpretation of how his administration has been able to redefine American society, fulfilling the objective that he set three years ago: to “Make America Great Again.” The President continued his speech by discussing the bustling economy, in whose revival he takes great pride. He highlighted how the stock market has surged under his presidency, claiming that such expansion will benefit the economy further. Unlike past States of the Union, Trump also made room to talk about the ways in which African Americans – along with all minorities – have flourished under his economy. He highlighted the low levels of unemployment for Blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans. But as many may know, our President is a man of action, so he made sure to shock the crowd and maintain his theatrics by giving a scholarship to a young African American girl named Janiyah – and her single mom, Stephanie – in order to support her dreams of going to a school of her choice.

Trump then moved to talk about societal welfare and the state of the American family. He claimed that during the past year, the real median income of the American household hit its highest level ever. In the same breath, the President also commented that due to his Opportunity Zones, blighted poor neighborhoods have been saved by the rich class’s investments. Let us just hope the poor are not excluded from these areas once they are up and running. Moving on, the President shifted his focus to the education system of America. He boasted about the reform of 18 states that have opted into Opportunity Scholarships – one of which he gave to Janiyah. Trump made it very known that his goal for education reform was for it to help make the American Dream more attainable for all Americans. The President then turned to the question of healthcare, to which he passively throws the Democratic party under the bus for trying to destroy.

While I am not here to critique or interpret the President’s speech, I cannot help but interject that he did an amazing job with his State of the Union – an amazing job telling Americans an incomplete story of how the economy and Union are actually performing, at least. As an anthropology student, I find that Trump’s State of the Union fails to meet the criteria of the late great anthropologist Franz Boas. Boas believes that in order to explain culture, society or even the economy, the reporter – in this case, Trump – must provide a holistic report, so that readers are not left to interpret, and often commit extrapolation, due to the lack of complete data. While Trump made a very generous gesture to all of the individuals he blessed in the evening, he failed to talk about major topics such as immigration camps, police brutality or the impeachment process – the latter not being as important, given his acquittal earlier that week. Still, it would have been nice for the American people to receive some guidance on moving forward from the allegations against the President. I believe that if President Trump would have taken an anthropological view to the overall economy and well being of the Union, he would have – the author speaks here with the smallest amount of confidence – stopped Speaker Nancy Pelosi from ripping up his speech at the end. Although, that issue may be litigated at a later date.

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