Every week since President Trump came to office, there is always something new to worry about and discuss.
Last week, the event was the State of the Union Address. This was technically Trump’s first SOTU as the 2017 ‘address’ was just weeks after the inauguration. This was similar to last year’s speech in many ways.
The backdrop, the audience and Trump at the podium all remained unchanged. Crucially, however, there was one difference: the message. The message in this speech seemed far detached from Trump’s usual divisive tone with radical phraseology making way for traditional vocabulary and schmaltz. There was praise for American resilience and bravery, lines like ‘we are with you, we love you’, and perhaps most eye-catching, a call for cross-party cooperation.
This seemed quite a departure from Trump’s usual tone and could provide some cause for optimism that he will seek to moderate his stances. Before premature conclusions are reached, however, huge caution is required.
In the first instance, Trump boasted about ‘his’ achievements, with the claim that America is rediscovering its way under his leadership. Secondly, with the outlook for his party seeming gloomy ahead of the mid-terms, using schmaltz and conciliatory language might be a ploy.
This premise could give Trump undeserved credit for being a calculating politician but from the sound of it, this tone was deliberately put on and probably won’t last long.
Turning now to the Democratic response, perhaps the most interesting element was the deliverer.
After the Bush and Clinton dynasties being rejected in 2016, it was quite surprising to see another dynasty punch back. The young, progressive Joe Kennedy looked to emulate his forebears by producing a landmark speech in response to Trump’s address.
He provided the usual Democrat narrative of saying the administration is subservient to the corporate class, and made the standard Democrat promise that they will stand up for ordinary Americans.
Whether it was the message to Dreamers or simply his surname, this speech carried some extra meaning which SOTU responses tend to fail at.
There seemed to be some genuine believability to the narrative which the Democrats desperately crave and it is unsurprising that it has fuelled more speculation about Joe Kennedy running for the presidency. The Democrats are desperate for a leader, with the void left by Barack Obama still stunting the development of their political message.
Though there is some scepticism at the idea of another Kennedy, a rallying figure seems to be what the left in America needs at this moment. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure after last week’s event: the SOTU has opened up many questions about America’s political future, on both sides of the aisle.