Throughout the President’s State of the Union address, the tension and divide between the Republicans and Democrats was palpable. After President Donald Trump gave his speech, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made a show of ripping up his speech. It’s another sign that American politics is more divided than ever before.
When our Founding Fathers first created the Constitution, they deliberately left out any mention of political parties. It was a way of ensuring that the bloody civil wars of the past would be avoided. Alexander Hamilton even called political parties “‘the most fatal disease’ of popular governments.” Based on the State of the Union last night, it appears like their fears are well founded.
The contentious relationship between President Trump and Democrat leaders is based mostly around the most recent impeachment process and the Left’s general hatred of the current president. The evening started out poorly with President Trump handing a version of his speech to both the Vice President and Speaker Pelosi. In an apparent sign of friendship, at least according to Twitter, Pelosi reached out for a handshake, which Trump either ignored or didn’t see. Pelosi returned the apparent slight by not giving President Trump the traditional introduction given by the Speaker to the President.
Throughout his entire speech, the vast majority of Democrats refused to stand or applaud for just about anything. While some of what Trump was saying definitely related to Republican party policies, surely everyone can agree that a strong economy is good thing for everyday Americans.
House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not attend, and another member of the Squad, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, walked out during President Trump’s speech. On Twitter, Tlaib wrote, “I walked out of that speech. The lies, the bigotry, and the shameless bragging about taking away food stamps that people depend on to live—it was all beneath the dignity of the office he occupies. Shame on this forever impeached president.”
But the coup de grâce came when Speaker Pelosi decided to rip the President’s speech in half, a very public denouncement of his leadership and presidency. The action is being labeled by many as petty, childish, and a disgrace and started to trend on Twitter. In a verbal statement after the speech, she called it a “statement of mistruths” and she told Fox News that she did it “because it was the most courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.”
In reality, it was a shocking display of contempt.
While it is natural to disagree with a leader that doesn’t support your viewpoint, our national leaders should demonstrate more decorum. Even if ripping up the speech made Pelosi feel better and played to the extreme members of her base, it was the wrong moment and the wrong message to send to the American people. And the President, if he saw and chose to ignore Pelosi’s extended hand, bears responsibility for contributing to the partisan atmosphere. It demonstrates that there is a literal divide between the parties that seemingly cannot be fixed and a disdain for the leader that Americans selected.
It’s unclear what the future will hold. The 2020 election results could change everything—but there is hope that after the impeachment dust settles, politicians can go back to creating policy and not partisan politics.