Editorial: Bipartisanship improbable if fear used as negotiation tactic


Iowa State Daily

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a rally as part of his USA Thank You Tour in Des Moines on Dec. 8. Trump spoke about the general election, how he would repeal Obamacare and bring jobs back to the US and reform care for veterans. 

Editorial Board

It didn’t matter that Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi donned the colors of the opposite parties as a nod to potential bipartisanship; the State of the Union talked of a game too big for either side of the aisle to be able to come together on.

Amid a potential government shutdown over a border wall along the southern border, President Donald Trump not only used the national stage of the State of the Union to elevate his cause to “build the wall,” but stunted the possibility of negotiations between parties moving forward by masking bipartisanship with immigration reform in the shape of a concrete wall.

Spending the first half of his scripted speech to request a truce between his party and the recently elected Democratic-majority House, Trump touted a bolstered economy, low unemployment rates among minorities and the tax reform legislation passed last year.

“America is again winning each and every day,” Trump said to a standing ovation. “Members of Congress, the state of our union is strong.”

Yet, Trump also conveyed a polarized and divisive version of America — one painted as dangerous and clouded by the havoc wreaked by undocumented immigrants.

“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens,” Trump said.

But this isn’t the entire truth. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 85,573 reported inmates in state and federal prisons who were not U.S. citizens — less than 6 percent of the total prison population.

And while it is not wrong of the president to call on legislators to revamp a nation’s immigration system, it was wrong of Trump.

The State of the Union is not about resurging campaign promises that have proven unfavorable by constituents. If a 35-day government shutdown was not enough to convey to the president that a border wall is not the answer to border security, then it will once again cost hundreds of thousands of American workers.

And that is extremely un-American.

The State of the Union is procedural. It is tradition. It is a vision of not just where we are as a nation but where we hope to be. It should not be used as a political tact or an opportunity to create hypothetical situations (a war with North Korea had Trump not been elected) to evoke fear in the American people.

Our union deserved a better State of the Union.