Donald Trump vowed to deliver a speech this past week that would “unify” the nation.
It didn’t happen. He didn’t deliver. His State of the Union speech was met with disdain from roughly half of the room in which he spoke and about the same percentage from Americans at large, those of us who watched the speech from far away, on our TV screens.
It now begs the question: How are we ever going to be unified?
I believe it starts with the president of the United States.
We have one individual with a political constituency comprising the entire nation: it’s the president (and yes, you can include the vice president, too, given that these individuals run as a ticket).
But the president stands behind the bully pulpit. He is the one we listen to. He is the one with the message, the policy, the principles we look for. The president also is the one who is capable of delivering the message of unity.
It’s been one year and about two weeks since Donald Trump took the oath as president. How much has he done to unify the nation?
He blasts congressional Democrats for failing to cast any votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president ignores — he didn’t forget — that not a single Republican cast any votes to approve the ACA back in 2010.
Trump continues to pound away at the media, calling journalists the “enemy of the American people.” He undermines the media for reporting what he calls “fake news.” He plays directly to the base of supporters that continues to support him — no matter what!
The president uttered that hideous assertion that white supremacists/Nazis/Klansmen comprise “fine people.” Who in the world actually believes that utter crap — other than the president?
At his State of the Union speech, the president uttered a remarkably divisive comment, declaring that “Americans are dreamers, too.” How does someone who proposes to unify the country poke his proverbial finger in the eye of those U.S. residents who were brought here illegally as children but who want to forge a path toward legal residency and even U.S. citizenship?
How can we reach a unified state? It must begin with the president. It’s the president who must set the tone.
It is not enough to declare your intention to unify a badly divided nation. It is incumbent on the head of state to deliver unity in the form of rhetoric that seeks to calm the storm.
The unity that Donald Trump proclaims he wants remains far in the distance. My fear is that this president is incapable of getting us to that point. He cannot function in such an environment.