[Tuesday] night, Donald Trump laid bare his view of America, and while this performance may have fed his need for sycophantic applause and punditry plaudits, it reveals a deeply disturbing, utterly myopic, and ignorantly clouded view of America, what issues we face as a nation, and the role that the President and Republicans play in those issues. The bar for Trump has been set so astonishingly low that the this faux character was nearly able, for 90 minutes, to hide the man that he truly is, and the reality we’ve seen for the last year. This man is the last person who should be discussing unity of any kind.
Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump displayed a misguided and bigoted perspective regarding immigration to this nation, and policies that support these repugnant views. As ICE continues to aggressively pursue immigrants and deport them, and as the President uses vulgar and hateful rhetoric to refer to their countries of origin, his past pledges to protect DREAMers and to have compassion for those who come to this country ring hollow. But while Trump is quick to create a scapegoat on which to blame the problems Americans face, he made no mention of some of our most pressing crises.
“Donald Trump displayed a misguided and bigoted perspective regarding immigration to this nation, and policies that support these repugnant views.”
Nowhere in last night’s speech was an admission of the gun violence epidemic, a public health crisis which plagues our nation and claimed the lives of over 30,000 people in Trump’s first year in office. Even as Trump made passing reference to the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, he seemed completely dismissive of the undercurrent of gun violence, or of seeking any solutions. Trump seems interested only in stoking fear against ‘the other’ rather than taking meaningful action to prevent this horrific violence.
Nor did he address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis that has continued under his languishing Department of Housing and Urban Development. There were no solutions offered for the 600,000 homeless people living in our country, nor the millions who struggle to find affordable housing.
The State of the Union is one of imbalance. Imbalance of wealth, where the top one percent of people control the vast majority of resources at the expense of the middle class and of those most in need. Where racial inequality still permeates the workforce, the criminal justice system, our communities, and our halls of government. In a nation that proclaims ‘all men are created equal,’ the pervasiveness of this imbalance is as striking as it is disturbing. And either the President of the United States is exploiting this imbalance for his own benefit and that of his Republican cronies, or he is so unbalanced himself that he cannot see it.
In either case, the future of our Union is in our own hands as we must stand united in resistance against this agenda of ignorance and hate, and work to ensure that a year from today, there is new, progressive leadership across government to correct this imbalance and move forward toward progress. It has never been more clear that progressive leadership is what’s needed to hold people accountable for their actions and their promises, across our city, state, and nation. Across New York State in particular, from Brooklyn and the Bronx to Rochester and Buffalo, I have heard the voices that demand this kind of driven leadership on a variety of issues.
Last night, the President made promises of bipartisanship- promises to lower prescription drug costs, to expand access to vocational schools, to implement paid family leave, but we have learned time and time again that this President’s promises carry little value. He has made it clear that none of the positive gains that he pledges to pursue are treated as a priorities. Rather, they are raised as smokescreens and feints while he and his administration pursue more divisive and hateful actions with their characteristic malevolence and incompetence. At one point in his address, the President called to ‘Remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.’ When it it comes to one White House employee in particular, I’d have to agree.
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. He was elected in 2009, re-elected in 2013 and again in 2017.
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