President Donald Trump has started to carve new divides on immigration as he prepares for the State of the Union address. In a series of tweets sent over the weekend, the president noted that Republicans in Congress have the responsibility to do “whatever is necessary for strong border security.” He reiterated his clamor for a wall blaming Democrats for the recent failures in his efforts to secure funding for it. Trump believes that a wall is needed for border security arguing that it will keep out “human trafficking, drugs, and criminal elements.” But Democrats say that they will never approve any budget for a wall arguing that the idea is old fashioned and inhumane.
On the run-up to the State of the Union address, there was a lot of hope that the president would focus on national unity in what’s already a divided country. The White House had indicated that Trump would be reconciliatory in his address but if these recent tweets are anything to go by, it may suggest that Trump will be combative.
A lot of political analysts believe that speaking on national unity would be the best political play for Trump. After all, over the last two years, the president’s rhetoric has alienated many Americans even though it has worked wonders in energizing his base. But with his approval ratings being low after the debacle during the shutdown that was largely blamed on him, the State of the Union would be a perfect opportunity for the president to make an immediate comeback. Additionally, the Russian investigation is closing in on the White House as more close associates to the president continue to get indicted.
A message of national unity is what many Americans expect and the president would easily win over additional support if he decided to take this path. But that’s not all. The economy too is doing well and that would be something worthwhile to talk about. Trump was in fact blamed for focusing too much on immigration during the midterms, losing impetus on the economy that was doing so well at the time. Recent tweets show that this might not change. It’s very likely that the president will continue with his tough talk on immigration as well as alienating Democrats by blaming them for everything.
However, some political analysts note that since the address will be scripted, it will indeed have bits of national unity in it. But that shouldn’t really be the focus. What will matter is what happens after the address on Tuesday. Even if Trump is able to deliver a reconciliatory speech calling for unity, how he builds upon that will define how significant the speech will be in the near term.
But knowing Trump, it’s not going to be smooth sailing. For instance, after the State of the Union address in 2017, Trump won a lot of applause from pundits after invoking poetic calls of unity and reaching out to Democrats on certain issues. But a few days later, he falsely accused former president Barack Obama of wiretapping the Trump tower.