PIQUERO: Trump’s address has conciliatory tone
Opinions Column: The Principled Millennial
This Tuesday evening, President Donald J. Trump issued what is shaping up to be his most compelling and unifying presidential address to date. For all his recent foibles and frequent lashing out of the mainstream media and political opponents, Trump struck a conciliatory tone in his prime-time speech addressing Congress. Harkening back to the image that ultimately won him the presidency, Trump painted a delicate and, dare I say, optimistic picture of the America he wishes to govern. Trump’s remarks elicited bipartisan praise in a time of intense polarization and divineness, hinting that the future he intends to embark on will benefit each and every American, even those whom vehemently disagree with him. This is not to say that many citizens of our country can’t point to specific proposals and courses of action that they disagree with the president on, however, admittedly uncharacteristically, Trump spoke directly to these Americans and offered a sweeping vision of change, compromise and action.
What marveled me most about this speech was the change in tone Trump showed when compared with his rather alarming and dire assessment of America that he laid out on Inauguration Day. Although I believe that his assessment was accurate and indeed necessary, I concede that it was largely partisan in both its style and content. On Tuesday, however, Trump spoke to a broader audience, opening his administration up not only to the millions of Americans who resonated with his message but also to the many million who did not. For this, I applaud the president and pray that going forward he works hard to bridge the terrible divide plaguing our nation.
Critics will contend that Trump’s divisive off-the-record remarks will always overshadow any legitimate attempts to work across the aisle. To this, I will remind them that although brash and oftentimes vitriolic, there is a man behind that veneer that intends to work hard and succeed for the American people. There is a man who, despite counted out on countless occasions and ridiculed as temperamentally unfit to govern, intends to deliver on his campaign promises to make America safe, economically prosperous and great again. Trump needs to make this Tuesday’s speech not an anomaly, but the norm. If the president is truly serious about uniting us as a people, he must work across the aisle, partner up with the same political opponents he ruthlessly berates from the stump and deliver for a broad audience who only wishes to see this nation thrive once more. This, of course, requires the Democrats, who have positioned themselves as the “resistance” to the president, to hash out their differences at the table and work with the man they disagree with. Compromise must no longer be the dirty word it has become in Washington. Trump branded himself as a tough negotiator, and now it is time to see if he indeed is the man he says he is. I strongly believe that this speech went a long way in proving to many that the image cultivated by his opponents of him is demonstrably untrue.
The issues he spoke about — expanding school choice, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act without negatively affecting those benefiting from it, strengthening and modernizing our military, advancing economic opportunities to those in the inner city, bringing back manufacturing jobs for the working class and cutting onerous taxes for the middle class — are issues that should garner bipartisan praise and approval. He demonstrated a willingness to bridge the partisan gap, boldly proclaiming that “Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country and for the good of the American people.” This kind of rhetoric was absent in many of Trump’s prior addresses, and marks a transition in tone which I hope will persist through the opening crescendo of his presidency.
I have defended Trump on many occasions, and continue to assert that his forceful personality resonates with a large, and tremendously frustrated segment of the country. However, I also believe that, as president, he needs to abandon divisive talk that will only further the partisan divide, and speak to a crowd larger than the 46 percent of Americans who voted for him. This speech did just that. I stand with the president when he pronounced that, “We all bleed the same blood. We all salute the same great American flag. And we are all made by the same God.” Professional in deliverance, eloquent in tone, and uniquely conciliatory compared to other addresses, Trump needs to use this speech as a model looking forward. There is no defense to the absolute debacle that was his last press conference. Such ramblings and denunciations only serve to appease his base while alienating his detractors. If he genuinely is to be a president who works for all Americans, he must continue to use such unifying language and truly make America greater than ever before.
Michael Piquero is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and history. His column, “The Principled Millennial,” runs on alternate Fridays.
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