Reflections on the State of the Union
"We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We have endured floods, and fires, and storms; but through it all, we have seen the beauty of America's soul, and the steel in Amerca's spine." ~ Donald Trump
Owing to my bizarre work / sleep schedule at the moment, this may go up a bit late, but I wanted to share my thoughts briefly on Trump's State of the Union address. I started in late watching it the night of on CSPAN's channel and only got about halfway through before I had to go do other things, returning to it again the next morning. I'd tweeted out some of the highlights as I followed along. The things I thought were of particular interest or import.
Of course, if you've been following me thus far, you should already know by now I viewing it through the Persuasion Filter; and I have to say, if you don't have that particular tool in your bag, you missed half the show, and it was already a great show even by layperson's standards.
My entire life, I have basically lived under the dynasties of the Bushes, the Clintons, and Obama, and only really have a romantic notion of truly great men like Reagan or Kennedy. The America I grew up in was always a dark empire, a hegemonic shadow more inclined towards ill than good. So it's no exaggeration when I say that I have never really felt optimistic about America, its identity, or my own as an American ... until President Trump.
Those of you who follow me know I coined the hashtag #HealTheDivide and I try to proliferate that as part of my brand in bridging the gap between people of differing points of view.
The above quote was the first thing I tweeted out last night, and the reason that line in particular struck a chord with me is because it spoke to that sense of optimism I now felt. There was a speech he had made in the summer of 2016 while on the campaign. I can't recall which one off the top of my head, but I had termed it the Great Uniter Speech. It was the point in his campaign wherein I noticed him changing from being a great divider - in so far as dismantling the major parties and the media-political complex, as well as being known for his political incorrectness.
In that speech, he had pivoted toward a new mission of bringing people together and I foresaw, even back then, that this would be his new path.
With that line from his SOTU speech, the infamously "divisive" President Trump was attempting to reach across the aisle and #HealTheDivide. He had taken the high ground - a very powerful persuasion technique - by reminding us all that we're one American family. This would go on to become a running theme within his speech.
One that filled me with great hope and pride.
"It is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people." ~ Donald Trump
In his book, Win Bigly, Scott Adams talks about how Hillary Clinton used weapons-grade persuasion against Trump by referring to him as "dark."
Anytime I hear that line of reasoning brought up, I usually laugh and say that I resemble that remark (it's literally in my name). For me, "dark" means something very different. Pisces is the darkest sign, born in the dead of winter and our minds often travel to very dark places, so we're used to it. To me, it's not a negative, but to the vanilla normies of the world, to all the lightworkers out there, it's persuasion gold and fills them with fear.
It gets the anti-Trumpers going.
I don't really follow the news. I don't even read my local paper. My local paper is mostly just a leftist rag meant to soak up liberal tears and gather collectivist snot. In fact, the front-page article this morning even tried its best to transmute Trump's speech into something inherently negative. Yet, it's to his credit and skill that even they were unable to do that. So powerful and positive and inclusive was his State of the Union that even ardent haters like Frank Lutz were moved by it.
Try as they might, though, even my local paper had to find something good to say, and I was actually quite surprised by what that thing was. The word they used to describe his speech was "heart."
The author said his speech had a lot of heart.
They then went on to list a few examples of his actual use of the term and I could feel my own heart begin to soften as well upon reading it, as I thought that was actually a very apt description. His speech did have a lot of heart. It was empathetic and caring. It was compassionate and human. There were several moving stories told of average Americans who'd experiences great or tragic things that tugged on our heartstrings and we all felt the same way.
"Three-hundred and twenty million hearts break for you," he told the two couples who'd lost their daughters to violent gangs of illegal migrants. In that moment, the whole country was united.
The Great Uniter had used his powers as a Master Persuader to #HealTheDivide.
Of course, it's important that we not only come together at our lowest points, but at our highest as well. Trump made many passing remarks throughout his speech showcasing America at its greatest. It felt like a return to the Reaganesque spirit of American exceptionalism that I couldn't appreciate in those days, but which I could fully experience now.
And though I don't get all choked up by symbols, even I felt my Grinchy heart grow half a size when he mentioned "our great American flag."
"The state of our Union is strong, because out people are strong!" ~ Donald Trump
I know it's mostly for political and psychological reasons that Presidents always come out and say that the Union is strong. I don't think there's ever been a President who's ever said it was weak. Part of me hoped during his first year that Trump would be the one to finally level with the American people and say that our system was broken, our nation was divided, and our country was weak. He didn't do that, and it was only after learning the Persuasion Filter that I came to see why.
A year later, he had many accomplishments under his belt and so I expected him to come out saying our country was strong, but I wasn't expecting him to deliver it the way that he did.
This particular line felt incredibly powerful, partly because of the way in which it was delivered, but also because that last little bit at the end spoke to a deeper truth about what makes America great in the first place. It's our people - our exceptional, unique, liberty-loving, individualistic people - the likes of which exist nowhere else in the world. A people forged by the philosophy that built this country and one which still lives on to this day.
For a time, I'd thought it merely a smoldering ember, awaiting extinction; but then Donald Trump came along, the fiery lion that his is, and breathed life into it again, sparking a fire that - if maintained - could well last a thousand lifetimes if only we, the people, continue to carry on that ideal of the American dream.
I had considered this line would be one for the history books, but there was one even better, and speaking of dreams ...
"Americans are dreamers too." ~ Donald Trump
When I heard this line, I had to pause and bask in its profundity. If there was ever a line that so succinctly captured the President's vision for America, this was it; and being only four words, its beauty is matched only by its simplicity.
I felt in awe when I heard this and I agree with Styx, it's an incredibly powerful line.
You may think I'm exaggerating when I say this, but I predict that this line will be forever tied to his name the way Kennedy had "Ask not what your country can do for you," and Reagan had "Tear down this wall."
We need to make America great again, because Americans are dreamers too.
So simple, so profound, so all-encompassing, so personal, so human, so full of heart. Everyone has dreams. I have dreams. I'm sure you do too. Dreams we'd love to see achieved but can't because this big bloated clunking bureaucratic hunk of junk we call government stands in the way of us and their fulfillment and Donald Trump has come along with a crane and a wrecking ball to smash it to pieces and cart away the debris, leaving us free and clear to build our American dream.
"No matter where you've been or where you've come from, this is your time. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve absolutely anything."
There's a lot more I can say about this speech. I could go into the details of his policy proposals, like how his four-point immigration plan was just a flawless execution of persuasion technique. I could talk about his use of visual persuasion in showcasing a select few individuals from the audience that night. I could say how much I enjoyed his not-so-subtle gesture to the Democrats, coaxing them several times to stand and clap for things they knew they should have been happy about. How he artfully paced and then led them.
I thought he would be a lot harder on Schumer, but he chose instead to be merciful. You could see when the camera panned out that old Chuck sat there in thoughtful contemplation, smiling, and clapping along. I dare say he'd been moved.
Sour Sanders begrudingly clapped. I think he's starting to realize his own irrelevance. Corey Booker went wide-eyed in his usual uncanny fashion. I actually like Corey Booker. At least, better than Menendez, but I can't deny he's got something going on with those eyes.
The black Democrats sat in a veritable sea of salt. I'll be the first to agree with Scott, Trump get's an F for race relations, but that's mostly a matter of optics, rather than substance.
Apparently, I'm not even the first to rag on them for their levels of saltiness.
Shall we count all the substantive ways in which Trump's policies are good for the black community? Lower taxes, lowest unemployment rate, family leave, prison reform, job retraining, opium crackdown, immigration reform, vocational and charter schools, business optimism, upholding the right to bear arms, wage increases, group healthcare policies, killing the individual mandate, relaxing on marijuana enforcement, and on, and on, and on ...
Is it perfect? No, and I can think of many other things he could do that would help make that list even better, but c'mon, people! Give the man something for trying at least.
Even if he's every bit the racist you believe he is, it doesn't matter unless it seeps into his policies, does it? Why should his personal opinion of you matter unless there's something in his actions that negatively affect you? Yes, I know Puerto Rico is still suffering, and a lot of the people who came here illegally are still going back, but what would you rather he do? Sorry if he's not perfect and can't be everything to everyone. That's just unrealistic to expect that he can be, but could you maybe meet him halfway and finally start to acknowledge that the country is doing a lot better under his leadership than you were willing to give him credit for?
"Let's come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done!"
As I said, I've been pessimistic most of my life about America's future and that's saying something; but we're a year into the Trump administration and the world isn't on fire. If anything, it seems the temperature has dropped a great deal and things are looking up.
There's still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. I'm hopeful for a red shift in 2018. Reagan had nearly a clean sweep of the country his second time around.
I'm still doubtful Trump will need to run again, if he even wants to by that point. There may not be anything left for him to do that would be within his particular skill set, so he might just pass the torch off to someone like Oprah or Rand who can then clean house. With the momentum he's generated, given how much mass he had to move initially, if things keep on the way they are, he should have most of the country's support by this time next year and have two solid years to do whatever he wants at that point.
He's already stated he plans to make infrastructure and healthcare a top priority. By now, those two should be fairly easy in contrast to the rest.
i don't know who he'd be running against in 2018, but my money is on Austin Paterson winning the Republican nomination in Missouri. Having another strong libertarian candidate in the Senate will feel amazing. It's possible that, between Austin, Rand, and Corey Booker, they might actually be able to make a compelling case to Donald Trump to end the war on drugs - or at least marijuana - and all the positive benefits that would have in terms of race relations, social justice, job growth, and federal spending.
The impact of that would be YUG---E!!
I've expressed before that I rank Donald Trump as already being within the top five Presidents we've ever had, up there with the likes of Jefferson, Madison, JFK, and Reagan. Following his speech, I'm seriously considering amending that assessment. If he continues on this path for the rest of his term, he could well be the greatest president we've ever had.
At that point, forget Mt Rushmore. We'd have to build him his own separate Mt Trump-more.
Welcome to the #GoldenAge.