SOTU Commentary: An ordinary speech from a bold and brazen President

Republican political commentator Sophia A. Nelson gives her take on Trump's State of the Union speech.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 30: U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) look on in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

It was indeed ironic to watch President Donald Trump stand before the nation and the world tonight and talk about division and unity.

His presidency has been one of the most divisive in our nation’s history. And yet, more than a third of Americans, according to polling data, strongly support and embrace Donald Trump and his idea of America.

The past year, 2017 was a tough one for our great nation. From Special Counsel investigations to Charlottesville to allegations of an affair with a porn star and the firing of top FBI and Department of Justice. Then on the eve of his first State of Union speech, President Donald Trump was caught in a partisan fight over whether or not to release the so-called “Nunes Memo” about alleged covert and corrupt activities by several FBI officials.

Trump was bold and brazen in his speech—taking credit for the lowest African American employment rate on record. The Congressional Black Caucus sat defiant and visibly disturbed particularly when he bragged about these numbers, when in reality, it is still almost double the normal unemployment rate. More importantly, the rate has steadily declined every year since 2010, when America’s first Black President was in office.


He talked about a vision for Dreamers and lawful immigration to America, trying to walk the tight rope between his base (traditionally anti-immigration, anti-DACA and anti-travel to America by way of Muslim countries) and the support he will need from Democrats to get any kind of comprehensive immigration reform passed.


Hundreds of people, many of them Haitian, demonstrate against racism in Times Square on Martin Luther King (MLK) Day on January 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Speaking to thunderous and sustained applause, a strident President Trump talked about those who stand to salute the American flag. In a not so subtle dog whistle to his base, reminding citizens of color that he neither understands or respects their plight.

His speech was nothing extraordinary. In fact, it was pretty ordinary and not at all what we normally hear from a new President, but more of what we hear from President’s at the end of their term.

Like other conservatives, I don’t believe that our country can be unified under this President. In fact, America is more divided than ever. These are dark and ominous days for us, but it is important to note that unity is bigger than one man or one political party. It’s about all of us asking ourselves who we are and who we want to be.

Sophia A. Nelson is an award winning journalist and author of E Pluribus One: Reclaiming Our Founders’ Vision for a United America. (Centerstreet 2017)