“Tonight I ask you to choose greatness.”
That was one of the high points in President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address to Congress and millions of television watchers in the USA and around the world.
That sentence ended a paragraph that included these stated goals:
“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” he said. “The decision is ours to make.”
Addressing his Democratic opponents, Trump offered a plea for the new Democratic majority in the House to avoid “ridiculous partisan investigations” and urged his enemies not to seek “revenge” against him.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.”
Over the past month, Trump has threatened to invoke a state of emergency along the southern border with Mexico, in an attempt to circumvent Congress, which has refused to give him $5.7 billion for a border wall.
Here are some of the various topics the president listed:
Criminal justice, drug prices, trade, infrastructure, healthcare, national security, curing childhood cancer and ending AIDS in America.
Trump said he would like to admit legal immigrants in “the largest numbers ever.”
When the Republicans were the majority in the House and Senate, Trump’s advantage allowed some successes, including big tax cuts, but proved insufficient to fulfill his promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, overhaul immigration laws and get billions to build a wall.
“Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” he said.
Congress and the White House face a Feb. 15 deadline to reach an agreement on spending issues, including the border barrier, before funding will expire and force about 800,000 federal workers to once again go without pay.
Trump’s opponents say that for all of the president’s focus on illegal immigration and his southern border wall, his record over the past two years has left Democrats, as well as some Republicans, skeptical of his willingness to follow through on his initiatives and accept compromises.
Sitting just behind Trump was the president’s newly empowered Democratic opponent, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
She did not introduce him and he did not greet her by name.
One change in the program that amplified the majority gain in the House, included dozens of women who won their seats in November as Democrats. They all dressed in white and formed a group sector in the House seating.
While many of them did not applaud the president, when he boasted that a majority of new jobs have gone to women, many of the freshmen Democratic congresswomen rose to applaud themselves. In a rare, spontaneous show of bipartisan comity, the president then congratulated them and the audience chanted “USA.”
Stacy Abrams¸ who narrowly lost her bid to be Georgia’s governor, yet emerged as a national figure, delivered the official Democratic Party’s response to Trump and criticized him for a shutdown that left 800,000 federal workers and many contractors unpaid.
Trump’s speech ran more than 80 minutes and involved dozens of standing ovations from the politically oriented audience.