My State of the Union response

For all my interest in politics, I don’t enjoy watching the State of the Union. Perhaps because I enjoy the policy aspects of politics more than the theatrics. And the State of the Union is mostly theatrics. Particularly tonight! Guess that’s what happens when you have a soon-to-be-acquitted former-reality-tv-star as president.

I’m going to comment on specific policies. The general remarks I originally drafted weren’t worth sharing.

Opportunity Zones – I hadn’t heard about these until tonight. I can think of numerous potential problems, but without knowing the details of the law, I’ll focus on the general idea. As an incentive to invest in struggling areas, it sounds like a great idea. Not Trump’s idea, but a great idea.

Criminal Justice Reform – Another excellent achievement. We have a lot of work to do, but the law that was passed is a good first step. In the works long before Trump was elected, but it happened while he was in office, so in the nature of U.S. politics, he’ll get the credit.

Top producer of oil and gas – ok, not a specific policy, but I had to comment on this. I just read God Bless Texas, which talked about the man behind fracking. Notable because fracking is the cause of this boom. Would a Democratic president have regulated this boom away? Maybe. But I have my doubts.

USMCA – Better than NAFTA? Yeah, probably. Better than the Trans-Pacific Partnership? No, not at all. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would have accomplished a similar objective but pulled in many more countries. Including so many countries in a free-trade agreement would have strengthened all our economies, isolated China, and been solidified our position in the Pacific for years to come. But maintaining our trade relationships with Mexico and Canada is good.

China policy – the tariffs are bad. Is China negotiating? Yes. But there were other, less economically harmful paths to the negotiating table. The TPP was one of them.

Cuba – isolating Cuba never worked. Continuing to do so will continue to not work.

Hurray for recognizing Venezuela’s Juan Guaido! That was a good move.

What is the Space Force going to do? Good? I should know. I love space. But I don’t like the idea of militarized space. At the same time, where there are people, there will be fights. I may be a little naive, but I’m not too naive to recognize that. Anyway, it’s probably a good thing.

Our schools are only failing because we don’t invest enough in them. Providing tax benefits for scholarship donors is a worthy goal (though at odds with the dream of a postcard-sized tax return form), but it will be better to find ways to better fund all schools.

Hurray for vocational and technical training! College is a trap when it is pushed as a cure-all. It was never the cause of greater wealth that we were taught it was.

Hurray for price transparency! A small step in the right direction. Now we just need to stop the consolidation of hospital chains so we actually have some choices….

Apparantly we should let immigrants die?

An expensive wall that won’t do much more than the barriers that already exist. Better enforcement focused on employers and easier legal immigration will be a lot cheaper and far more effective. Not to mention more humane.

I will always be grateful for Trump fighting the opioid epidemic.

Rush Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom? Now if that wasn’t pandering to his base, nothing is. I remember my dad putting on Rush Limbaugh when I was a kid so we could laugh at him. I’m not laughing at him now. I pray that his recovery will be quick and if not, that his pain will be eased.

Doctors can be put into difficult positions in dealing with pregnancies. We should be very careful when passing laws that may restrict their options.

Hurray for family leave for mothers and fathers! A no-brainer to me.

Trees? Yeah!

Infrastructure? Yeah! Maybe more investment in public transit, though?

I support cities that release non-violent immigrants. Cities and states should not be held accountable for acts they cannot foresee.

Easier immigration for workers does not need to come at the expense of families or refugees. If providing hope for the hopeless is outdated, then we have lost our way.

How vigorously is the administration defending the right for Muslims to pray? Do they defend hijabs and crescents as well as crosses? Religious liberty only exists when it exists for all.

Fund Artemis!

Hurray for winding down Middle East wars…if only we could avoid actions that require more troops to be sent….

I hope that people are inspired by Trump’s speech. Reading the final paragraphs, I can forget about the monster who spoke them and remember that America is greater than the sum of its parts. Despite all our weaknesses and shortcomings, we are built upon an ideal. That ideal – freedom and equality – is really hard to reach, but we don’t give up when something’s hard. We keep striving.

Let’s keep striving to make America better, even if it means a few compromises along the way.