State of the Union, a Resounding Success
By Scott Moore, Guest Columnist
The first State of the Union Address of the Trump presidency was for the most part a resounding success. The President presented the case for his policy proposals clearly and convincingly; initial polls show that, aside from some predictable disagreement along party lines, most viewers believed it was a good speech. But clearly it was not perfect, or else I would not be writing this response. I will be focusing on the brief segment of the speech which I believe very few Americans of either party may in good conscience support.
If there was one issue that defined the Trump campaign it was illegal immigration; the Republican base admired the frank and unapologetic stance that candidate Donald Trump took on a subject far too often neglected in American politics for its controversial nature. Tuesday’s address of course featured much of the same fantastic rhetoric that swept Trump into the White House. “Americans are dreamers too” was perhaps the most powerful and heavily discussed line of the night.
The substance of the immigration discussion was, however, decidedly less appealing to conservative voters; Trump has effectively caved under political pressure and agreed to substantial concessions on amnesty. Every President must, of course, make compromises in the pursuit of their agenda. The issue here, however, is not just that Trump is turning his back on his campaign promises but that he is doing so in exchange for no clear benefit. The administration is extending an olive branch to the Democrats by offering amnesty for broad swath of the illegal immigrant population that goes beyond only DACA recipients in the hopes of receiving bipartisan support for the construction of a border wall. This is either naiveté or a complete betrayal on the part of Trump. No one in their right mind could possibly believe that Democrats will ever back the border wall, or that they will ever be satisfied until amnesty becomes universal. These are, after all, their future voters at stake.
So, the President has confirmed that for all his rhetoric the slow march of amnesty will continue largely unhindered. The absurdity of continuing to offer piecemeal amnesty without first securing the border with any meaningful improvements seems to be completely lost on both parties in Washington. As our hypothetical wall languishes in the halls of congress, however, the Democratic Party is getting its way once again. Chuck Schumer and his allies may be satisfied with such an arrangement, but their base seems to have other ideas. Late last year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was surrounded at an event by ungrateful DACA recipients screaming that she is not doing enough for the illegal population. Congressional Democrats are apparently perfectly willing to trade what is left of their dignity for those precious future votes. This brings us to the real problem surrounding the DACA controversy: the recipients themselves. True, these people were indeed brought to this country unwittingly as children, but that was years ago. These individuals are now young adults who, compared to citizens in the same age range, have much higher high school dropout rates and consistently work low skill jobs. I think it is far more reasonable and fair to evaluate prospective citizens on a case by case basis with a pathway to citizenship being granted only to those who have demonstrable qualities indicating that they have something to contribute to our economy. America is, after all, a nation state, not a charity. Our government has a responsibility to act only in the interest of its citizenry.
The plight of these individuals is a truly difficult situation that will need to be addressed. President Trump is gravely mistaken though if he believes that giving a blanket amnesty to nearly two million illegal aliens in exchange for vague hopes of a wall would in any way be one of the great deals he is so fond of mentioning. “America First” has always been the mission statement of the Trump administration, and the President’s first State of the Union address was for the most part a splendid monument to that creed. If, however, President Trump goes forward with flimsy compromises that leave no one satisfied and betray his base, he will not be a two-term President.