Democrats' 'Sit-In' Is a Stain on Their White Coats
The success of the State of the Union address is usually measured in standing ovations, but President Trump’s 2019 speech is best measured by how often Democrats stayed planted in their seats.
The president challenged Americans to “choose greatness,” but the dour Democrats continued to choose resistance, forgetting that cameras documented every instance when they felt it inappropriate to celebrate the successes not just of this president but of the American people he serves. The effect was perhaps exaggerated by the decision of the Democratic women of Congress to dress in white in honor of the women’s suffrage movement, which succeeded in winning women the vote 100 years ago. They were certainly the most visible faction in the audience, and drew the attention they no doubt wanted, but may live to regret.
President Trump began his speech on a note of accommodation. “We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential … hoping we will govern not as two parties but as one nation. … Victory is not winning for our party; victory is winning for our country.” The gauntlet was thrown down, and now it would be seen whether Democrats could live up to their rhetoric of working together or would instead adopt the partisan path of resistance. Vice President Mike Pence stood to honor national unity, as did the Republican half of the Congress, but Democrats seemed reluctant. Eventually, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi begrudgingly rose and applauded, as did some of the Democrats in the chamber, but many of the women in white remain seated, setting the precedent for much of the evening.
The Democrats did seem to agree with the president that “[t]here’s nothing in the world that can compete with America,” but when he got to the specifics, there was a huge enthusiasm gap between the Republican vision and the Democratic response.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” the president said.
Here, Pelosi stood enthusiastically and did her reputedly fake applause of the president’s suggestion, but the new spiritual leader of the Democrats — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — sat sternly in continued resistance to the call for common good, flanked on either side by loyal foot soldiers who looked ready to take a bullet for their young general.
Trump continued: “We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight I ask you to choose greatness.”
It was a well-written exhortation to work together for the American people that was embraced by the Republicans in the room and, if the polls are to be believed, by the vast majority of Americans watching on TV, but that meant nothing to most of the Democrats. Nothing. Especially from the white coats. No reaction. How it must have aggravated them to have rogue Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia seated directly in front of them, where he frequently popped up and applauded the concept of getting things done to better our country.
But since the white coats supposedly spoke for the average American, surely they must have applauded when the president told the success story of the American economy. No. You would be wrong to think so. As the president recounted the historic lows in unemployment for blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans, the Democrats could not be bothered to stand or even applaud politely. There they sat. When the president announced that “[u]nemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low,” the camera panned across the white-coated exemplars of compassion and empathy to find them scratching their noses or pulling their ear lobes, looking for all the world like they could not care less.
It was understandable why the Democrats did not stand to applaud when President Trump celebrated the death of the individual mandate in Obamacare, but what reason did they have for not joining him in celebrating the new “Right to Try” legislation that opened the door for the terminally ill to use experimental medications? Presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stood, but where were her colleagues?
Energy independence? When Trump announced that “the United States is now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world,” you would have expected a bipartisan standing ovation, right? This, after all, has been a goal of American economic and foreign policy for decades! But the white coats of surrender were having none of it. Again, only lonely Joe Manchin stood and applauded, winking at the president for good measure.
Fifteen minutes into the speech, Trump weaved in the obligatory “The state of our union is strong,” and you might have been forgiven for thinking that the Democrats were pawns of Putin for how disappointed they seemed by the good news. When did a strong country become a partisan applause line? Not sure, but it must give Russian oligarchs some comfort to know that America’s leaders can’t even agree on something as fundamental as that.
Perhaps it was no accident that President Trump timed his one reference to the Russia Hoax investigation immediately after he trapped the Democrats into doing Russia’s bidding.
“An economic miracle has taken place in the United States,” Trump said, “and the only things that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way. We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.”
Those words no doubt aggravated his political enemies, but there is also no doubt of their truth. Every day spent trying to take down this president is a day wasted in governing.
No better example of that can be found than in border security. Everyone acknowledges that Democrats were for a border wall before they were against it. The only thing different now is that Trump was elected president by promising that he would actually “build that wall” instead of just talking about it. Democrats surmise that if they give him the wall, they will also be giving him an open road to re-election. Therefore, the president’s clear and forceful enunciation of the importance of a border wall was probably the most terrifying aspect of the night for the opposition party.
“Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and secure our very dangerous southern border. Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers out of business.” Wild applause by Republicans and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Head-shaking by Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris. Scowls from white-coated suffragettes.
The president described the dangers of illegal immigration, both to those who seek a better life in America and to those Americans put at risk by immigrants who come with less than honorable intentions. Yet the Democrats didn’t appear to get it. To whom are they beholden? Why did they sour when the president declared, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally”? Can anyone explain when it became OK for America’s lawmakers to provide cover for lawbreakers?
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the president’s vow that “America will never be a socialist country.” As he correctly declared, “America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free and we will stay free.” To shouts of “U-S-A,” the camera lingered on the face of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who looked like he would rather be anyplace in the world at that time, maybe even in oppressive Venezuela.
For the rest of us, it was a refreshing confirmation of the principles that made America great in the first place, and which should keep us safe, strong and secure in the future — as long as we do indeed “choose greatness.”