Editorials

Editorial: State of the Union: Making America truly great must start at the top

Miami Herald Editorial Board

President Donald Trump claps during the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday(Win
President Donald Trump claps during the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday(Win McNamee/Pool via AP

President Trump was supposed to be the statesman, and, by the time the curtain came down on his first State of the Union Address, that indeed was the role that he played.

And as the curtain rises on his second year as president of the United States, it remains to be seen if he’ll stay in character.

Knowing all eyes were upon him, Trump presented less bombast, touting lower unemployment rates, the tax cut and an economy that’s revving up. And new infrastructure, paid family leave, job training — for inmates, too! — were winning messages. We urge Congress to follow through. And he’s right, repression in Cuba and Venezuela cannot stand. But darkness lurked, too: removing regulations that keep Americans safe; smilingly skewering those who don’t stand for the National Anthem; the specter of ideologues on the federal bench; and characterizing illegal immigrants as criminals.

His call for national unity sounded sincere. But unless he models that behavior himself, it comes off as a callow ploy to rope in skeptics. After all, the divisiveness that he — no, not created in this country — exploited has spawned acts of hatred and hostility that he has yet to address. His name has become a taunt against the very people he himself have vilified.

So we fear that his words won’t necessarily square with this so-called “new American moment” that he promised. After, the entire first year of his terms was a new American moment in itself.

Again, he pledged to “make American great again for all Americans.”

Here’s what that looks like to us:

It means our fellow Americans are not our enemy: African American athletes who peacefully protest the fact that America still is not so great for their compatriots, are not “sons of bitches.” (And we caught that slap!)They are expressing themselves in a way that is indeed makes America great; the children of undocumented immigrants — DACA recipients — are not chess pieces, pawns in the failure to reform our immigration policy (of course, the Democrats need to heed this, too).

It means we can disagree without being disagreeable: about healthcare reform, immigration, climate change, voting rights.

He promised us “one team, one people, one American family.” We look forward to President Trump’s leadership in fulfilling this pledge.

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