By Steve Murch
The state of our union has always been, shall we say, open to interpretation. We don’t often acknowledge that, but it’s true. Only in the best or worst of times do we agree. Beyond that, voters typically back their party and disdain the other side. Politicians? Well, they always focus on the shortcomings of the other party and never acknowledge their own party’s issues. Ever.
So it’s “normal” for there to be differences between people. But it seems to be getting worse. That chasm is never more apparent than the rift between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the State of the Union. Despite the temporary end to the government shutdown, the fate of the speech remains unclear. Both sides seem determined to cling to their previous positions.
Both sides should reconsider. Think about this: If Nancy Pelosi lets Donald Trump deliver his address soon, it would show she is the bigger person. This isn’t caving.
Democrats in Congress, aside from a golf clap of respect for the office when he enters the chamber, could still express their displeasure with Trump by not clapping for him during the speech itself. Republicans aren’t going to be so enthusiastic that a chilly reception by the Dems won’t be noticed. TV talking heads love to talk about the number of standing ovations and their length. Not going to happen this time, whenever it’s held.
As for the president, even a bit of a mea culpa would go a long way to show Republicans, especially the moderates, that he understands he isn’t blameless (OK, let’s not hold our breath waiting for that since he never admits any blame; I don’t want to turn blue and pass out). With Democrats in control of the House, Trump needs all the support he can get from his own party to stave off an impeachment effort.
The other thing Trump needs is some good PR. He took a hit during the shutdown, and with good reason. If you support smaller or limited government, there are better ways to do it than putting your neighbors or friends, or even family, out of work. If you support large government, don’t you owe it to your neighbors, friends and family to live life as free as that want without infringing upon others rights to live their lives?
There has to be a balance.
Until we accept the need for balance – you know, like we used to do – then we are doomed to be more at odds with each other. We have plenty of things we need to work on that keep us divided.
The State of the Union shouldn’t be one of them.
Steve Murch is a former managing editor and award-winning columnist for The Alpena News. He’s a lifelong Michigan resident, a broken and defeated fan of the Detroit Lions and a forever optimistic fan of the Detroit Tigers. His column will appear most Thursdays.