The First Address

Liz Kacher, Staff Writer

President Trump proved himself to be the champion America needs on Tuesday night, as he delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress. Glum Democrats sat on their hands while Republicans praised Trump for keeping his campaign promises — promises that won him the presidency.

After five weeks of back-and-forth with the Washington establishment, Trump seized the opportunity to establish his presidential posture and to accept the tradition that defines and dignifies the presidency.  The speech was an outstanding opportunity to set a positive tone to the Trump administration following a number of weeks of vehement opposition.

Trump’s demeanor was cool, calm and collected during the speech, and I felt optimistic for America’s future upon its conclusion. Despite the deep ideological divide between parties, Trump was able to preach his policies to an audience dedicated to a positive future for all Americans.

According to a CNN/ORC poll of speech-watchers, President Trump’s first address to Congress was met with positive regard. CNN reports, “Overall, about 7-in-10 said the speech made them feel more optimistic about the direction of the country.”

Whether or not the audience approved of President Trump himself, is a completely different story. This was particularly obvious in the chosen apparel by many Democratic women. A number of the 66 Democratic women who make up the House Democratic Women’s Working Group wore white clothing, commemorating the women’s rights movement in the early 1900s.

“Tonight, our Democratic #WomenWearWhite in support of women’s rights — in spite of a @POTUS who doesn’t!” Nancy Pelosi tweeted on Tuesday. CNN reported that the members wearing white showed support for Planned Parenthood, affordable health care, reproductive rights, equal pay, paid leave, affordable child care and “lives free from fear and violence.”

While the efforts of the Democratic women were admirable, I don’t think the President’s first address to Congress was an ideal place to demonstrate their support for the aforementioned causes. I strongly agree with the call for unity made by Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Republican Conference.

“Typically, when a president is elected, you have that coming together as a country, which we haven’t had, and I’m hopeful that people will listen to his message tonight and that they’ll be willing to come together, find the common ground, so that we can do the important work that the people expect us to do.” McMorris Rodgers told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Congressional Republicans were largely receptive of Trump’s ideas — as evidenced in the dozens of times they interrupted him with standing ovations. However, Democrats looked for any opportunity they could seize to demonstrate their opposition of the newly elected president. Despite the opposition from the left, Mr. Trump exhibited how eager he was to move past the trivial partisan arguments that plague us.

“The time for small thinking is over, the time for trivial fights is behind us,” Trump said. “From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears,” Trump said.

Trump’s earnest intention to unify our country was seen during the most emotional moment of the speech, when he recognized Carryn Owens, the widow of William “Ryan” Owens, a member of a Navy SEAL team who was killed during a commando raid that the president authorized in Yemen.

“The challenges we face as a Nation are great. But our people are even greater. And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform,” Trump said as he introduced Ryan Owens’ widow.

This was the moment in Trump’s speech when I believe he truly became the President. He showed his dedication to unifying us beyond our partisan lines. Partisan lines were clearly blurred during the two minutes and 11 seconds of sustained applause for Owens’ widow. During the standing ovation, Owens looked up at the ceiling as she sat crying next to Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter.

“For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom — we will never forget Ryan,” Trump said.

Liz Kacher is a staff writer for   The Dakota Student. She can be reached at  [email protected]