Contributed by joe Montero
US president Donald Trump’s State of the Union Speech has come and gone. It was no surprise that the occasion was choreographed, as a Republican rally in Washington’s Congress chamber. After all, this is what these events are about and those present are politicians.
The difference on this occasion is that the stage presentation was worked more so than usual, and designed to use peer pressure, to pull reluctant republicans into line, presenting a vision of gung ho unity to remake America and the world into the Trump vision.
Consequently, viewers were subjected to choruses USA! USA! and other forms of flag waving. Behind the façade there was little real content. There was repetition of well used phrases. Missing was detail on exactly what the Trump administration is going to do. This was certainly not about pointing out the challenges facing the nation and the solutions.
There was no responding to some very important facts. This is the most unpopular president in American history and no amount of presenting himself as a hero, is going to turn this around. There was nothing there about delivering on promises that had been made to those who are not benefiting from the present gravy train. The fact that the Administration has fumbled international affairs, isolated the United States from global opinion and end escalated the prospects for conflict was ignored. Just the comment that Americans are the toughest people on Earth.
What there was a lot of was of Trump patting himself on the back and collective self-delusion shared by his camp.
To be sure, Trump mentioned the economy, but only in terms of what a great job he’s being doing and pretending that it is doing fantastically as a result. You can only take this seriously, if you believe that lining the pockets of Wall Street is what matters. Many of the republican representatives are slopping their snouts in the gravy train and they obviously think this is a great thing.
Most Americans are living a very different reality. For them, life is getting tougher and not better. Washington might suggest that more jobs have been created. But they forget to mention that this has been through the creation of a cheap labour force.
The Mexico wall came up again. It is one of the ploys Trump has consistently used to carve off a section of the population by setting up a straw man,and manipulating insecurity and fear, to divert attention from other matters.
Trump also needs to appeal to the race hate groups and Christian fundamentalist fringe. They provide many of the ground troops that keeps the Trump bandwagon rolling.
Overall, the most important part of the speech and choreography was to deliver a message to the Wall Street elite – we are here for you.
Trump called on the democrats to join in a bipartisanship to implement the Trump agenda, offering a few insubstantial crumbs as bait. True to form, they once again showed that they are Trumps number one asset. They failed to take the opportunity to deliver a few stinging blows.
The reply by Joe Kennedy III was lacklustre. Did nothing to appeal to the working class base, African Americans and Hispanics. He could have offered clear cut, concrete alternatives. It did not happen. Focus was on the obsession with the Russians. There was mention of Trump’s xenophobia and racism, but in terms of throwing accusations, rather than spelling out in detail, how to counter division and bring Americans together under a shared alternative vision.
There was no plan to redirect the advantages going to the top end and sharing fairly the fruits of economic activity. The Kennedy speech was peppered with doses of identity politics, which like Trump’s style, concentrates on generalities and pits sections of the American community against each other.
Critics point out that so long as the Democrats themselves remain dependent on donations from Wall Street, they will be incapable of changing. This is what underlined the failure of Hillary Clinton and it seems nothing has changed.