This column by ACRU Senior Fellow and Policy Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was published March 8, 2017 by Townhall.
President Donald Trump has spoken to Congress and the nation. He did what Democrats and some Republicans said he could not. He provided Americans with a positive vision and offered realistic solutions with an overriding theme to bring people together to make America great again.
It was a bravura performance. He admitted that he hadn’t been communicating well. So he stepped up and made the speech of a lifetime.
Even many of his severest critics admitted that they saw someone different take charge in the midst of a world full of problems.
But President Trump’s triumph was far more than PR. If only that, he would have just done an Obama. Toss out some sound bites. Preen for the cameras. Rely on the loyal commentariat to sing your praises.
President Trump can never rely on the latter, however. The media did everything it could to prevent him from being elected. And it went all out to destroy his presidency before he even got started.
What made President Trump’s address so powerful was that it was substantive. The first Republican president in eight years, who enjoys a GOP-controlled Congress which George W. Bush lost, provided an optimistic blueprint for governing.
The president began by urging his listeners to uphold the values that make America special. The “torch of truth, liberty and justice” has been passed. The desecration of Jewish cemeteries and other disgraceful discriminatory acts remind us of the need to stand “united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”
What isn’t to applaud in those sentiments?
Next he made the case for “Renewal of the American Spirit.” His vision places America first. But not in a negative, selfish way. “America is once against ready to lead,” he said.
However, we must first take care of members of our national family. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about anyone else. But our greatest responsibility is to those in our own community.
As the president explained, we’ve sent money and jobs to other nations. “We’ve financed and built one global project after another,” but ignored the fate of our own people in cities across America. “We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open.” The consequences have been large-scale illegal immigration, mass drug smuggling, and an increased risk of terrorism.
That has begun to change, however. He’s filled his short time as president with action. More American companies are investing at home. Lobbying by former government officials has been restricted.
The massive regulatory burden on American business is being lifted. Violent crime is being confronted. Immigration laws and rules are being enforced. The Islamic State is being more effectively targeted. And a Supreme Court justice has been nominated who believes the courts are to interpret not make the law.
You don’t have to like every policy to realize this is a serious president with a serious agenda. And there’s more to come.
He promised to improve America’s infrastructure, relying on private as well as public funds. He urged Congress to “replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.” That’s what should have been done at the start.
The president cited the importance of affordable and accessible childcare. He pointed to the need for faster development of cheaper drugs. He called education “the civil rights issue of our time.” Said President Trump: “Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.” You’d think the Democrats at least would applaud that! The military also needs to be strengthened, so that it can perform its most important role: defend the country.
The president closed with a rousing call for Americans to work together for a better future. “Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people,” he observed.
He urged members of Congress to “join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country.” As for the people, he told them to “Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.”
A large majority told pollsters that President Trump had the right priorities and they felt more optimistic about the country’s direction. So much for the president’s supposed inability to lead.
Before a joint session of Congress we saw the president that the Democrats demanded: serious, positive, thoughtful, practical, uplifting. But his opponents still sat on their hands. They want him to fail, even if that means America fails.
But that’s not going to happen.
President Trump has issued a call to arms. We the people must turn that into a reality.