Partisan Tensions on Display During State of the Union


President Trrump’s State of the Union Address was filled with partisan tension. (Flickr)

Noah Osborne, Staff Writer

2020 is off to a politically turbulent start in America, and it seems that even with the conclusion of the impeachment trial for President Donald Trump, the frenzy will not dissipate any time soon. The bipartisan tension was far from relieved during last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, which gave President Trump the opportunity to address the nation and potentially unite a country that is torn between party lines. However, the address was plagued with discontent, child-like antics and self-absorbed debacles that made the speech feel more like a dated reality television show to the nation.

Historically, the State of the Union has given the commander-in-chief the opportunity to speak to the nation’s concerns and elaborate on what will be done to support the interests of the people. Attempts have even been made to reach across the aisle to aspire to work not for their parties but for America as a whole. However, the opposite occurred during last week’s address. Between President Trump’s refusal to shake Speaker Pelosi’s hand and Pelosi ripping the transcript of the president’s speech on national television, it has become apparent that the interests of the nation are less of a priority. However, the State of the Union Address yielded some highlights, as people received awards and a military family was reunited. Even though this was supposed to take center stage during the address, the majority of the night focused more on the disdain between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi.

Although it was on everyone’s mind, President Trump’s impeachment trial was never mentioned. Instead of boasting of his inevitable acquittal, Trump chose to center his speech along the motif of “the great American comeback.” American comeback or not, the speech did not do any favors to President Trump as many Americans, especially in the Democratic Party, are livid with the acquittal by the Senate. President Trump’s State of the Union Address only further damaged his reputation in terms of uniting the Democratic and Republican Parties. Refusing to shake Speaker Pelosi’s hand perpetuated this division as it showed that President Trump, who is responsible for ensuring that the nation is united above all else, was unwilling to even show the slightest respect to his Democratic counterpart.

I am not diminishing his sense of frustration with Speaker Pelosi impeaching him. President Trump may resent Speaker Pelosi, but he has no right to disrespect her either, especially when the country is watching and yearning for a sense of bipartisan unity. President Trump had his chance to show that even through adversity, he respects his detractors and is willing to work through any differences for the sake of American unity. Unfortunately, he failed to do so. What exacerbated an already muddled speech was his reunion of a military family. It is always a tear-jerking sight to behold brave soldiers, returning from arduous service to America, as they reunite with their loved ones. However, their reunion at Trump’s State of the Union felt less like the spotlight was on them –– which it should have been –– and more like an exploitative means to divert attention from the fact that President Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. As if America was not already displeased by this, we had no moment of rejuvenation when our house speaker sunk to new levels of low.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who made the argument that President Trump was lacked overall maturity to be president, stooped to the level of a disgruntled child by tearing up President Trump’s speech on live television. What is worse is that she deliberately waited until the cameras were on her to do it. As someone who launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Speaker Pelosi showed that instead of being the calm and eloquent speaker America needs, she would tear asunder anything that upsets her. By tearing President Trump’s speech, the only statement she made was that she was angry that she did not have her way with President Trump’s impeachment. We as a nation do not need immature representatives with all that is happening around the world, such as world hunger, global terrorism and war. We need representatives who will endure any event that may arise. Pelosi’s ripping of President Trump’s speech shows that in this respect, she has failed.

Speaker Pelosi achieved one thing by ripping Trump’s speech: she has shown that the divide in America between the Democratic and Republican Parties is more apparent now than ever before. This trivial behavior has hurt the prospect of uniting the country and is providing President Trump the political ammunition he needs to accomplish their worst nightmare: his re-election.

Unity in America has been torn, and I do not think it will be taped back together anytime soon.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.