President Trump delivered what may be his final State of the Union Address. This yearly address has altered from the simple reading of a letter by the President’s secretary, to a grand affair redolent of a Royal speech to Parliament. So while this annual tedium is deeply anti-republican, we can still find credit for the President for what he said.
Trump opened his speech by declaring:
“Our military is completely rebuilt, with its power being unmatched anywhere in the world — and it is not even close. Our borders are secure. Our families are flourishing. Our values are renewed. Our pride is restored. And for all these reasons, I say to the people of our great country, and to the Members of Congress before me: The State of our Union is stronger than ever before!”
He noted the outcomes of his policies as being good for all Americans, not just his voters, by saying:
“The unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have reached the lowest levels in history. African-American youth unemployment has reached an all-time low.”
Trump praised the expansion of our energy industry:
“Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far. With the tremendous progress we have made over the past 3 years, America is now energy independent, and energy jobs, like so many elements of our country, are at a record high.”
The President verbally slapped Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro by inviting the legitimate president Juan Guaido. He made this appearance to do double duty against Bernie Sanders when he remarked: “Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”
He reminded Congress of their duty to the Republic,
“We must always remember that our job is to put America first!” He also defended religious freedom, saying, “In America, we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God!”
But perhaps the finest words Trump spoke were his closing peroration which I quote in part:
“As the world bears witness tonight, America is a land of heroes. This is the place where greatness is born, where destinies are forged, and where legends come to life. This is the home of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, of many great Generals, including Washington, Pershing, Patton, and MacArthur. This is the home of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and so many more. This is the country where children learn names like Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett, and Annie Oakley. This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo.”
He closed with these word:
“Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!”
What was lacking in this speech? The word, “I.” Now I don’t mean that literally, the word itself appears. But what doesn’t is a preening sense of his own importance. Trump has, on several occasions, proved capable of subsuming his prodigious sense of self and speaking things that many of us know to be true. And he speaks them with the word, ‘we’
Philosopher Roger Scruton, who recently passed away, often wrote of ‘we,’ and asked who the ‘we’ was of our Constitution, or the ‘us’ in “In God We Trust.” The answer is that these corporate bodies are pre-political things. Groups to which we belong before the divisions of ideology and party come into play. There must be a ‘we’ and an ‘us’ and an ‘our’ before our Republic can be spoken of. Trump has upheld the belief that there are such things as our freedoms, our Constitution, our strength, and our heroes.
President Trump has again proven that he has a sense of the Republic, which is simple, fundamental, and true. He perceives that America is a fundamentally decent place, filled with millions of people most of whom are also decent. That our nation is a land of heroes. Trump honored one of these men, Charles McGee, one of the last remaining Tuskegee Airmen. The President gave McGee an honorary promotion of Brigadier General in the Air Force, pining the stars on his shoulders earlier that day.
This is the vision of America that many of us believe in. That despite our sins, mistakes, and the terrible things that have been done, our Republic is still a thing to be loved and defended. I doubt that Trump has ever read a page of Edmund Burke, but he might agree with the great Whig that in order for us to love our nation, our nation must first be lovely. Trump is a lover of the American patrimony in his own, odd way.
Raise a glass to President Donald Trump, for he has done it again. He has taken the showman’s skills and the braggart voice and raised them to a greater purpose. He has, in this speech, been Presidential.