U.S. President Donald Trump can’t restore lost trust with a speech. But both he and the Democrats must stop seeing compromise as weakness.
The White House promised that Donald Trump would use his speech to send a strong signal of bipartisan cooperation. What we actually heard from Trump, then, was more like an outstretched hand followed by a kick in the shin.
Trump didn’t want to miss the opportunity to campaign for his wall again before an audience of millions. He painted a dark picture, warning of the dangers of open borders, and defiantly insisted that he would get the wall built.
Teleprompter Trump Is Not the Real Trump
The call for cooperation thus seemed less believable, especially since Trump still threatens to declare a national emergency in order to build the wall without congressional approval.
Once again, the dilemma of the president became clear: Even a half-successful sermon cannot restore the trust that Trump has gambled away in the last two years.
Especially since most Americans know that teleprompter Trump is not the real Trump — Twitter Trump is. And he will presumably resume sending angry tweets in just a few hours.
Democrats Must Still Be Careful
But, the Democrats must be careful. Cheered on by their base that’s increasingly drifting leftward, many want to stop Trump with fundamental opposition.
With their new majority in the House of Representatives however, the Democrats have been given the responsibility for the government by the voters. If they refuse any cooperation with the president, voters will punish them for it in 2020.
In the end, both sides must stop viewing compromise as weakness. The state of the union is bad when, in politics, the pragmatic middle road falls away.