Issues & Insights

Why This Year’s Is A Rare State Of The Union Worth Watching

President Donald Trump delivers the Address to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol. This is the President's first Address to Congress of his presidency. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

I&I Editorial

State of the Union addresses are tedious, pointless, and quite often irksome. But this year’s promises to be none of that. President Donald Trump is going to do what no U.S. president has ever had to do before: He will denounce socialism in America.

State of the Union addresses have become political speeches, staged performances pocked with embarrassing standing ovations, and see-me-America lawmakers, brought to us by a media that is either fawning or disparaging, depending on which party is in the White House.

“The State of the Union is a huge waste of time” John Dickerson wrote in Slate during the Obama years. It has become a “rote and desolate” annual exercise full of wasted words.

“Maybe we should shelve the whole exercise until someone can come up with a form that injects a little whiff of the innovation, resilience, and creativity — qualities of the American spirit that are so often praised in the speech but rarely demonstrated by it.”

None other than George Will has said the State of the Union address is “undignified … vulgar … a tiresome exercise in political exhibitionism.” According to Time correspondent Ishaan Tharoor, now of the Washington Post, Thomas Jefferson decided in 1801 “that the president’s speech ought no longer be dictated before Congress and instead simply submitted” in paper “in a dispatch carried by aides.” Jefferson felt an address “bore unwanted similarities to the British monarch’s speech from the throne.”

But in 2020, if Washington Examiner’s Rob Crilly is correct, Trump’s State of the Union is one that has to be made and America needs to hear.

“The tone will be presidential, but the text will pull no punches when President Trump delivers his State of the Union address next week with an attack on the ‘rising force of socialism’ in the Democratic Party,” Crilly reported last week.

And on the rise it is. A Fox News poll found that between February and December of last year, favorability of socialism grew from 25% of respondents to 31%, with those who strongly favor it growing from 6% to 10%. At the same time, unfavorability fell from 59% to 53%.

The Democratic Party is consumed by socialism. As we noted in May of last year, “a shockingly high 70% of Democrats say that socialism is ‘a good thing.’ When Gallup asked about socialism just one year ago, 57% said they have a positive view of socialism. And last year’s poll was the first to find majority support for socialism among Democrats.”

The Democrats’ infatuation with socialism is playing out in Iowa, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has won elections as a Socialist, was the leader going into the caucuses, and in New Hampshire, where he has a seven-point lead over Joe Biden and a 14-point lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Even more worrisome: Another Gallup poll, this one from November, says “since 2010, young adults’ overall opinion of capitalism has deteriorated to the point that capitalism and socialism are tied in popularity among this age group.”

Why does this matter? Socialism is not a system in which people are allowed to act freely. It operates through coercion, the threat of force, and, when needed to achieve the “common good” of socialism, real force.

Socialism impoverishes its subjects, and crushes the human spirit. The hoodlums and gangsters who establish and enforce it, however, always get rich.

Even if we’re talking about the welfare statism or “democratic socialism” of some European nations rather than the socialism of Cuba, East Germany, Venezuela and the retired Soviet Union, the heart of any system based on collectivism still requires coercion, punitive taxation, and a varying disregard for property rights. Its benefits have to be financed by market economies, which are rejected by Sanders, Warren, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other Democrats in favor of centrally planned economies.

Will Trump use strong words rather than watered-down political language to remind America of socialism’s gulags, inherent violence, and forced conformity; of planned economies’ abuse of liberty, smothering bureaucratic traps, and the oppression of the many through the power of a few?

It’s not his style to go soft. So it’s likely the country is going to hear what it needs to.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board


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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

2 comments

  • A part of the reason for the surge in socialists is the crisis of capitalism.
    What we have today is a form of neo-fascism: the oligarchs as the owners of the politicians who obligingly do their will. Three obvious examples: Immigration, Banking and Health Care. The first needs no comment, The second is disgust that a $16 trillion fraud resulted in not one senior banker (and there were thousands available) was jailed. The third too is obvious, but to hang it on one fact: An MRI in the US costs approx $1,000. In Japan $80-150.
    Defeat of the lunatic left would be best achieved by preaching, practicing and praising Free Enterprise.
    Trumps refusal to renew the appalling gift of taxpayer moner to Elon Musk and his taxfarmer kin was a teeny tiny baby-step.

  • Until the GOP sets a better example by rejecting the crony capitalism (economic fascism) that they employ to deliver profits to all of their own friends (in banking, insurance, the arms cartel, bigPharma, etc.) they will have NO MORAL GROUND to stand on in denouncing the “socialist” version of the same behavior. Capitalism is the greatest economic system ever devised, and has lifted billions from abject poverty over the centuries. But it falls out of favor quickly, when so-called “proponents” embrace crony capitalism rather than free market capitalism, and pretend that they are free market supporters. Words and actions have meanings, but sadly the GOP says whatever they need to say to get elected, then does whatever they want to stay elected. And NO, that is NOT an endorsement of the horrible democrats or their socialist policies.

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