How Would YOU Describe the State of Our Union?

How Would YOU Describe the State of Our Union?

President Trump delivered his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night. The speech was scheduled for last month, but was postponed because of the partial government shutdown, prompted by Mr. Trump’s demand that Congress pay for a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

Were you watching? Why or why not?

Though we welcome your reactions to what the president said — and to the Democratic response — in this forum we’re chiefly asking how you think our country is doing right now.

Are we better off than we were a year ago? Two years ago? Why or why not? What are the main issues we face, in your opinion? In general, how strong is the state of our union right now?

In Trump Asks for Unity, but Presses Hard Line on Immigration, The Times summarizes the speech and the reaction to it:

President Trump delivered a message of bipartisan unity on Tuesday night in his first address to Congress in the new era of divided government, but signaled that he would continue to wage war for the hard-line immigration policies that have polarized the capital and the nation.

In a nationally televised speech that toggled between conciliation and confrontation, Mr. Trump presented himself as a leader who could work across party lines even as he pressed lawmakers to build a wall along the nation’s southwestern border that leaders of the newly empowered congressional Democrats have adamantly rejected.

…The change in the power structure in a Capitol long dominated by men was on display as Ms. Pelosi and scores of House Democratic women wore white, the color of the suffrage movement, reflecting the fact that 131 women were sworn into the new Congress, the most in American history.

When Mr. Trump noted this breakthrough, the women leapt to their feet, cheering, dancing and high-fiving each other. “That’s really great,” he said. “Congratulations.”

He made no direct mention of the issues that may yet come to dominate the year, such as the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, or the parallel inquiries that House Democrats intend to conduct into his campaign’s ties with Russia and efforts to impede investigations.

Instead, he alluded to them only in passing, but pointedly. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States,” he said, “and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.”

But Mr. Trump indicated no retreat from his almost singular pursuit of a border wall, directly taking on Ms. Pelosi, who has called it “immoral.” He devoted 15 minutes of the hour-and-22-minute speech to immigration with no concession to Democratic priorities like a path to citizenship for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

“This is a moral issue,” Mr. Trump said as Ms. Pelosi sat unmoved behind him. “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration,” he added. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”

In the official Democratic response, Stacey Abrams, who lost a close race for governor of Georgia in November, scorned the idea of unity from a president who has practiced the politics of division. “We know bipartisanship could craft a 21st-century immigration plan,” she said, “but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart.”

Ms. Abrams, who is African-American, challenged Mr. Trump’s history of racial provocation, saying, “We must hold everyone from the highest offices to our families accountable for racist words and deeds and call racism what it is — wrong.”

The president’s speech, built on a theme of “choosing greatness,” came at a pivotal moment halfway through the president’s term as he seeks to regain momentum after the midterm election defeat that handed control of the House to Democrats and after his failed effort to use a partial government shutdown to extract money for the wall.

Students, please tell us:

— Is the state of our union strong, in your opinion? In other words, how do you think the country is doing right now? Are we doing better, worse or the same as we were a year ago? What should be the nation’s priorities? What are the biggest issues we face? For instance, do you agree with President Trump’s focus on immigration and the need for a border wall?

— What is your reaction to President Trump’s State of the Union address? What, to you, were the most memorable moments or lines? How effective do you think it was over all?

— What reactions to the address — whether from political commentators, members of Congress, social media or your friends and family — did you find most interesting? Why?

— Which descriptions of the state of our union that you have heard or read this week do you find most compelling or persuasive? Why?

— If you were to make your own one-minute State of the Union speech, what would you say? Why? What issues, policies, ideas or themes would you highlight?