For the past 9 years, since it was founded, PlanetPOV has covered and hosted a live chat during every State of the Union address.
However, out of principle and to make a statement, we won’t be doing so tonight.
This SOTU address, the first by Donald Trump, comes in the midst of the investigations and revelations about Trump’s campaign and family colluding with Russia to corrupt and sabotage our democracy and institutions. Just as troubling, it comes in the midst of Trump and Congressional Republicans colluding to obstruct justice by slandering and eliminating top officials of the FBI. Their apparent attempt to undermine The Constitution’s system of checks and balances by damaging the FBI and the rule of law, trying to raise Trump to become above the law and position the presidency of the United States as an unchecked authoritarian, runs contrary to what the tradition of the presidency and the State of the Union represents.
We stand at a troubling crossroads for our democracy on this day. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe finally relented to the merciless attacks on him by Trump and Republicans and resigned yesterday. Now, many of the FBI officials who stood for the rule of law in supporting the investigation of likely criminal actions by Trump and his cronies, have been fired, run out of office or moved out of the way.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has now been bumped up to the top of Trump’s/Republicans’ list for being forced out of the FBI. They have voted to authorize a government sponsored propaganda attack against Rosenstein and the FBI, headed up by Trump toadie, Rep. Devin Nunes.
This is what the state of the union in the United States is right now because Trump occupies the White House. Our government is supporting racism and bigotry of all kinds, the destruction of our environment and green energy, giving away and selling off public lands at great discounts to those who will ravage them, sabotaging our health insurance system and throwing millions of people off of health care and consigning them to earlier deaths and crushing debt. And enshrining a massive transfer of wealth from 99% of Americans to the richest 1%.
This Republican-controlled government has been building and empowering a national police force terrorizing and hunting down productive and honorable people who have contributed to the country and their communities over decades but are not legal citizens because Republicans have stood in the way of legislative fixes on immigration issues.
Trump and Republicans have undermined all of our institutions by embracing lies, phony conspiracies and vicious rhetorical attacks, constantly assaulting the 1st Amendment by claiming any news unfavorable to Trump is “fake news”.
As was said about Nixon in the midst of the Watergate scandal, there is a cancer on the presidency but in this case, it extends to being a cancer on our democracy and sovereignty. Trump’s continuing embrace of Vladimir Putin and Russia, while blowing up American unity, institutions and alliances, at the very least, advances Putin’s goals no differently than if he controlled the presidency.
Amid all of this, comes tonight’s State of the Union address. What is farcical is that it is widely known and discussed in the media that Trump will merely be reading the words of other people and will be judged as competent and “presidential” merely if he can read off of teleprompters without interjecting his typical hateful ramblings.
Trump has been documented as lying over 2,000 times in his first year in office. It would be irrational to expect anything other than a string of lies to run through tonight’s propaganda rally. As he has been, Trump can be expected to take full credit for the economy he inherited from Obama. He will no doubt display his con artist skills in crediting the fraud that is the tax cut bill, passed just a month ago, for showering the nation and “the forgotten people” in wealth and prosperity. He may brag about stopping the fictional crime wave his administration fabricated, protecting the air and water he is polluting by killing regulations and the EPA, lowering black unemployment as if it was intentional and not a legacy and multi-year trend of Obama policies while Trump has been attacking many prominent black Americans yet calling white supremicists “good people”.
Considering that his game is Doublespeak, he may boast about how bipartisan he is and wants to be, how much he cares about DACA recipients despite the fact that he has constantly hurled racist attacks at Latinos and threw them all off of DACA in the first place then refused to accept a bipartisan solution.
He will of course pander to the fearful and hateful racists in his base, warning of all the threats brown people, immigrants and Muslims represent, push his ongoing purge of brown people in the country to “Make America White Again” and promise that his magical border wall will make all those brown people disappear in a poof of smoke.
There will be many self-congratulatory statements…er…lies about how wonderful everything is because of him (and how everything that’s not wonderful is the fault of Obama/Democrats/Anyone who didn’t vote for him). He’ll take credit for Obama’s economy, the stock market’s increase (though when it falls, it will be Obama’s fault) and the sun rising in the morning as he has ordered.
It will be nauseating enough to watch Trump politically masturbate in front of Congress and the nation (at least he’ll save $130k in settlements) but add to that the mass of lies and propaganda he’ll spew and one may be kneeling at their gold-plated toilet most of the night.
As those familiar with quantum theory know, watching something is participating in its existence. We aren’t denying or ignoring the existence of Trump or his SOTU by not participating in it, we are just refusing to support them (and their ratings which matter greatly to Trump). A big part of what feeds this propaganda beast is consuming the lies as they’re freshly served, giving them immediate attention, as the media did throughout the 2016 campaign.
Instead, the intention here is to become fully informed about the speech after the fact. The clips will be played to death in the media and the lies, outrages, self-aggrandizing, etc. won’t be hard to miss.
SOTU speeches are never really considered to be of as much concrete value as they are symbolic of the president’s priorities and conscience. In Trump’s case, lacking a conscience and being compulsively dishonest, there is little that would seem to be gained by participating in this exercise in propaganda.
Meanwhile, the Democratic response to Trump’s SOTU will be made by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III. That is a debut on the national stage that will be well worth watching. He is being talked about as a potential 2020 Democratic candidate to run against Trump so a well received speech could launch that candidacy.
Most Americans know what the state of the union is under Trump and its not good. No propaganda delivered by him tonight will change reality so the incentive to participate in another attempt by Trump to deceive the public and feed his eternally needy ego is as minute as Trump’s attributes that cause him to be so insecure.