For the sake of the nation, avoid mixing entertainment and politics


photo by Jessica Gallo

President Donald J. Trump delivers his third State of the Union address before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

A State of the Union speech should be exactly that: an analysis of where we are as a country that includes both the good, the bad and a plan where we need to go to continue to strive for success. However, President Donald Trump’s speech was less of an actual “State of the Union” and more of a reality TV-style speech. 

Reality TV shows share a few common characteristics: exaggerating successes, feeding off conflict, manipulating viewers’ emotions and holding an ulterior motive of winning the game.

Let’s start with Trump’s exaggeration of reality. Trump said, “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far.” In reality, the U.S. did not become the world’s top energy producer under Trump’s administration; it took the top spot under the Obama administration in 2012, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration. 

Additionally, Trump described the U.S. relationship with China by saying that, “We [the U.S.] have perhaps the best relationship we have ever had with China, especially with President Xi [Jinping].” 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the Communist Party of China, headed by President Xi, “presents the central threat of our time.”

In classic reality TV-style, Trump tried to stir up conflict during a speech that should have actually helped unify the country. During his speech, while talking about the new bills Democrats were proposing, Trump called them “socialists.”

Trump also said, “Over 130 legislators in this chamber have endorsed legislation that would bankrupt our mission by providing free taxpayer-funded health care to millions of illegal aliens,” essentially attacking Democrats who want to provide free medical treatment for illegal immigrants. 

But conflict was not the only thing Trump was stirring up; he also tried to manipulate viewers’ emotions. First, Trump awarded conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which stunned Limbaugh as well as the crowd. Trump also surprised Amy Williams and her family from Fort Bragg, N.C., by Amy’s husband surprising the family from his return from battle in Afghanistan. While it might be a nice sentiment to recognize cancer victims and military families during the State of the Union address, he took it to the extreme with his showmanship.

But above all, Trump’s State of the Union Address was nothing more than a reality TV contestant’s quest to become king of the island. Trump used his platform to make a pitch for re-election. When Trump began walking up to the podium, he encouraged a four more years chant, which was mainly led by republicans. Furthermore, he closed his speech by saying that “the best is yet to come,” imploring voters to elect him for the next presidential term. 

Having a State of the Union inspired by reality TV might be fun and entertaining for the audience, but as citizens of the United States, it is important that we question whether President Trump’s entertainment tactics during an address is the best way to maintain the strength of our union.