Actions speak louder than words. That’s a phrase that I was told constantly growing up. But if Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is anything to go by, it’s a message the president doesn’t live by.
A big theme of President Trump’s address was unity. He called for politicians to “reject the politics of revenge” and heal divisions in the country. However, just hours earlier, he called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a “nasty son of a bitch” and mocked the late Senator John McCain for low book sales after recalling that McCain voted against repealing Obamacare, according to several people in the room with him. Unity does not mean that Trump is free to criticize others while asking that they be nicer to him in return. If he is the one making the call, he needs to be the one to extend the olive branch.
The president also said he wants legal immigrants to move to the country “in the largest numbers ever,” and that it is only illegal immigrants he has a problem with. If that’s true, why have he and his administration moved to cut legal immigration? This year, the U.S. will only accept 30,000 refugees, the lowest number in almost 40 years. This is lower than the 50,000 allowed in 2017 and 2018’s 45,000-person cap. In fact, people from seven countries are currently banned from applying for visas at all.
Trump also stated his goal to end HIV and AIDS by 2030. If this is the case, he probably should not have fired his entire HIV/AIDS advisory council after six resigned due to Trump’s policies, such as not offering sexual education or refusing to expand Medicare. The council will meet with two people in March, but they likely won’t be able to produce the same quality of work as the previous 22-person council. In November 2018, the Trump administration announced a health care plan that would allow insurers to stop covering certain protected classes of drugs, including those used to treat HIV, according to NBC.
These are just a couple of the inconsistencies that were present in the most recent State of the Union address. He also claimed a need to move past partisan investigations, a clear reference to the investigation into whether his campaign team colluded with the Russian government to win the election. But he has also asked the Justice Department to investigate former president Barack Obama and the Democrats for not acting on Russian meddling. If Trump wants to moved forward on the issues he talked about, he needs to start by undoing the work he has already done.
I know that President Trump is capable of following his words with actions. At the State of the Union address, he said he wanted to help women in developing countries. Two days later, he signed a memo launching an initiative to financially support workforce training and other tools for women in these countries. This is the exact approach that should be taken with every issue on the agenda. If something can be acted upon, act upon it immediately. Don’t just talk about it.
If President Trump truly believes in the agenda he set forth in his State of the Union address, he should look in the mirror. It’s easy to say that everyone needs to be unified or that we need to stop HIV and AIDS. It’s not as easy to start acting on those ideas. However, the President of the United States, one of the most powerful people in the world, should be the one to start. If he won’t live by his words, why should Congress and the American people listen?