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Engaging presidential speech: Actions to follow?

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Political Writer/Columnist

Political Writer/Columnist

Political Writer/Columnist

Erica Esparzas, Political Writer and Columnist

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On February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress to articulate his plans on a wide range of his policies to include trade, defense, immigration, healthcare, and counter-terrorism. President Trump definitely delivered a different type of speech and it was quite a contrast to his divisive inaugural speech that had most Americans feeling concerned and fearful about our country’s future. President Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday night was an attempt by the Trump Administration to unify and inspire Congress as well as citizens, at his request, to “embrace this renewal of the American spirit.” President Trump’s tone was a drastic shift from previous speeches. His speaking points were high-minded, he stayed on topic and did not ramble as he usually does, there were less filler words he used, and he did not insult anyone or make divisive remarks, or did he?

The deliverance of his address was by all accounts a definite improvement from his usual apathetic and underlying dark tone of previous speeches and credit must be given to the President for his appropriate decorum, decency, and etiquette that has been sorely missed throughout his journey to the Presidency. Now that credit has been given, it has to be worth mentioning that although his presentation and delivery has improved, that does not necessarily mean that his words were not divisive. President Trump did try to unify and attempt to mend the bad blood between the two parties but he did in fact divide using a different tactic “in the nicest way.” It was a great relief to finally hear the President of the United States condemn the attacks and hate crimes against minority groups when he spoke about the vandalism of the Jewish cemeteries, the threats to the Jewish community centers, and the shooting of two Indian men in Kansas during his address as it was prioritized in his speech. It seems ironic that the very agitator that provoked and incited prejudice, discrimination, and antagonism towards people of different races, religions, and beliefs would be the one to “unify” and “clean up” his mess but it might be a little too late.

During his first address to Congress, President Trump invited special guests who happened to be family members of three individuals who were reportedly killed by illegal immigrants who were living in the United States. The guests included Jessica Davis, Susan Oliver, and Jenna Oliver who were relatives to two California police officers killed in 2014, allegedly by a convicted felon who had been deported twice before due to drugs and weapons related arrests. The other guest was Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose son was a high school football star that was killed in 2008 by a gang member who was an illegal immigrant. The invitation of these guests was to highlight Trump’s immigration policies as a security issue and to expand on his justification against illegal immigrants living amongst us. It is awful to even begin to imagine what these families have been through and still have to go through but for the President to begin his speech in a highflying unifying fashion just to exploit these people’s suffering all the while demonizing immigrants as predators is just bothersome and shows continuous signs of power motives and manipulation to gain sympathy towards discriminatory policies in order for him to reach his necessary goal of justifying discrimination.

Unfortunately, it is not only President Trump alone that has cultured this false perception of illegal immigrants but the Republican Party as a whole has fallen victim to these bias perceptions and with their lack of speaking out and distinguishing a difference between “illegal immigrants” and “criminals,” means they fully support this belief which is hazardous to the American people and to innocent immigrants whose only crime has been to illegally come to America for a better life and future for their families. This scheme that Trump and the Republicans have fostered that enables them to parade around families of those murdered by “illegal immigrants” is just a continuous systematic maneuver to deceive and perpetuate a false notion that “illegals” are violent and dangerous which is absolutely NOT TRUE! This design reminds me of the stories we hear in history class of politicians and law enforcement back in the day doing much of the same thing when they would spew rhetoric towards the public describing a beautiful white woman who was viciously attacked by a black man, or a gifted and talented daughter destined for greatness who was killed by a Jew, or a high school football stud who was gunned down by a Hispanic gang member, or Americans killed on 911 by Muslims, and all of a sudden the public was alerted to every African American, every Jew, every Hispanic (who might be illegal), and to every Muslim. It does not matter what your faith, race, legal status, or gender is, there are criminals in all forms and us “labeling” criminals is also a deception of our own prejudices and stereotypes. The administration and our government entities cannot be labeling or giving subliminal false notions in tying the terms of “illegal immigrants” to “criminals,” they are two different things with distinct and independent existences.

President Trump definitely looked and sounded a little more presidential but the conventional front was not enough to fool some Americans because words and actions are two separate things. The morning of the Presidential Address to Congress, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro met with the president and brought up the bomb threats against the Jewish community centers along with the vandalism of the Jewish cemeteries and President Trump indicated that these actions might have come from the “reverse” to “make others look bad.” The day of his “unifying” speech, the President was indicating that the “reverse” meaning “democrats or Jews” could be the ones doing this in order to make the administration look bad. I appreciate the fact that he stepped up his public speaking skills but I am not convinced that he had a change of heart in a matter of hours before giving his first address to Congress. The speech President Trump delivered Tuesday was just a tantalizing tactic to excite both sides with a promise that is unobtainable by this Administration and the best rule of thumb to make that presumption is the classic expression: Actions speak louder than words. Actions prove who someone is. Words prove who they want to be. I personally believe his actions, not his words.

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Engaging presidential speech: Actions to follow?