R.I.P. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a timeless image the moment she tore the official transcript of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. It was the perfect end to a perfect glimpse at the fractured state of our union.
Throughout the president’s speech, Democrats exuded disapproving facial gestures and body language. Republicans stood to applaud nearly every point the president made.
Democrats dismiss the talk as a pack of lies, offering little detail to support their claim. Indeed, times are good in the United States for all demographics. Unemployment is genuinely at an all-time low. Millions of Americans are coming off food stamps and other forms of assistance.
Regardless of who gets the credit, this good news should unite us. Instead, we remain in a state of cold civil war.
Social-media culture allows Americans to hate each other all day from the comfort of office and home. In this middle-finger arena, the art of middle-ground compromise is gone. Today, it is winner-take-all and win-at-all-cost.
We are left with important, life-altering disputes that have us in a perpetual standoff.
Consider Janiyah Davis. Trump invited the Philadelphia fourth grader and her mother to the speech as an example of families with children stuck in underperforming schools. The president surprised them with a scholarship.
It was a heartwarming scene. Only a decade ago, Democrats and Republicans would have high-fived about the girl’s good fortune.
Not anymore. For the Democratic Party, Janiyah represents a predicament they cannot escape. The politics surrounding this girl are just too consequential.
Janiyah represents children leaving one-size-fits-all traditional public attendance centers. That’s the school model that best serves the teachers union, which ranks among the Democratic Party’s largest constituencies. If Democrats lose the union, they lose elections.
School choice, or educational freedom, won its first big victory with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Just as a scholarship will liberate Janiyah, the court allowed third grader Linda Brown to leave behind a forcefully segregated all-black school in Kansas to attend one with white children.
The old issue ignited conflict in a 2019 Democratic primary debate when Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., accused former Vice President Joe Biden of opposing busing to desegregate schools.
“Harris and Biden expose the longtime cowardice of the Democratic Party in dealing with school segregation...” states a Washington Post article titled “How school desegregation became the third rail of Democratic politics: White liberals opposed segregation in the South, but fought tooth-and-nail to keep it in the North.”
Modern Democrats oppose segregation, morally and philosophically. Practically, desegregation requires school choice. As such, it contradicts the union’s agenda of choosing who educates kids, which schools they attend and what they are taught. In a world of stubborn division, politics outweigh principle.
From start to finish, Trump’s speech was a substantive challenge to center-left politics so direct it left Democrats squirming in their chairs.
Trump spoke of 7 million Americans coming off food stamps. The Democratic Party initiated food stamps with good intentions and lots of unintended consequences. Democrats expand food stamp dependence whenever they control the government. Passage of the Affordable Care Act caused unemployment, by increasing the overhead associated with employees. As such, it increased dependence on unemployment benefits and food stamps. At the time, leading Democrats boasted of helping more people with nutrition and unemployment aid.
Government expansion reliably increases dependence. Conversely, the Trump era of business deregulation and tax cuts has welfare dependence declining. Democrats made clear last week they are not impressed.
Trump boasted of higher military spending and a new branch of the armed forces — the Colorado Springs-based Space Force. Democrats traditionally want more spending on social programs; less on defense. It stands to reason they declined to applaud.
Democrats mustered only scant applause when the president celebrated the unusual survival of a girl born at 21 weeks gestation. It was the lead-in to Trump advocating an end to late-term abortion. Democrats all over the country refuse to support life-saving care for babies who survive abortions. Given this stand, they cannot consider compromise on a late-abortion ban.
“Members of Congress we must never forget that the only victories in Washington that matter are victories that deliver for the American people,” Trump said.
Democrats expressed at that moment they do not agree with “America first.” A camera panned to U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. and Jerry Nadler, D-New York. Nadler rested his head on a finger in a gesture of bored dismissal. Schiff sat red-faced, smirking in apparent disgust as he turned to view his colleagues.
As the president spoke, we witnessed our sociopolitical crisis in a vivid microcosmic display. We are bitterly divided over culture, personality, political identity and style. We must own our opponents, show them no mercy and shred their ideas. Both extremes play by similar rules. It leaves us with hate-inducing conflicts and no earthly means to resolve them.
All hope rests in something bigger than humanity. Thursday, world leaders from all points of the political spectrum gathered for the 68th National Prayer Breakfast. They appealed to a higher power infinitely greater than political parties or the executive, legislative and judicial branches combined — an entity much bigger than ourselves.
In times like these, we should pray for one another. Enemies and all. We should ask God to save our nation with a force that tears through hatred and unites us in love.
The Gazette Editorial Board