The Political Genius Behind Trump’s SOTU Theatrics

President Trump’s political genius was on display in his 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday, as much as were his many achievements from his first three years.

As the president began to roll out his introductions of guests in the gallery, with each one, he was doing a three-for-one. No person with a heart remained dry-eyed. The stories and the dramas were electrifying moments for normal people watching and sharing the guests’ sorrow, joy, pride, hope, and desire for justice.

These guests also conveyed a political meaning—an in your face challenge to the Democrats on key policy conflicts such as homelessness, abortion, school choice, honoring those who sacrifice for our safety and freedom, borders, and sanctuary cities. Trump was going for the hot-button issues, not by debating, but by showing their human face.

Each real-time drama demonstrated how the president delivers for real people, individual people.

Lastly, the pathos associated with each guest was paired on camera with the stony-faced Democrats unwilling to applaud. They didn’t applaud for all the great statistics showing the lowest black unemployment and lowest black poverty in history. They didn’t applaud Charles McGee, the 100-year-old World War II veteran and Tuskegee airman who President Trump announced he had honored earlier in the day with a promotion to brigadier general.

Trump used the opportunity to display both his respect and his understanding that blacks have been treated as second class citizens in living memory, relating how after 130 combat missions, McGee returned home to “a country still struggling for civil rights.” Trump upped the emotional power by also introducing General McGee’s 13-year-old great-grandson, who aspires to be a Space Force officer, a new branch of the military President Trump established last year.

Democrats found nothing here to applaud. They want the race narrative to be 1619, America to be eternally damned as a foundationally racist country. Trump’s position, in contrast, raises everyone up: “From the pilgrims to our Founders, from the soldiers at Valley Forge to the marchers at Selma, and from President Lincoln to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Americans have always rejected limits on our children’s future.” Trump wants to remind black Americans that this inheritance of striving and overcoming belongs to them, too.

In Trump’s America, we are a land of heroes. We all unite in honoring and loving our common heroes. Whose team would you rather be on?

It was clear from the choice of guests that President Trump is going all out for the black vote, with personal stories of courage, success, and hopes answered. The first five featured guests were African American. The Democrats scowled through it all. It was shocking.

The very first was a previously homeless and drug-addled black veteran, now sober and working thanks to a President Trump supported enterprise zone, for which Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) got a special shout out and a close-up on camera. This was an unspoken challenge to the Democrats’ failed policies on the homeless.

The next was awesome because President Trump upped the ante and used a reality TV approach to create a dramatic moment in real-time. He introduced Janiyah Davis, an adorable fourth grader and her pretty single mom, desperate for a better school and better future for her daughter. Her hopes to get her daughter a good education in a charter school were blasted by Pennsylvania’s governor, a Democrat, who vetoed the expansion of school choice for 50,000 children.

President Trump came to the rescue. “Janiyah, I am pleased to inform you that your long wait is over. I can proudly announce tonight that an Opportunity Scholarship has become available, it is going to you, and you will soon be heading to the school of your choice!”

For me, the most moving real-time experience was seeing a young mother and her miracle 2-year-old child, born after only 21 weeks. Trump didn’t need to make a pro-life argument. He showed it to us in an unforgettable, living moment. In doing so, he changed that debate forever.

When the president announced he was asking Congress to ban late-term abortion, we weren’t listening to a debate. We were watching a human face, the face of the child’s mother—seeing intense emotions surge through her—surprise, gratitude, elation, love, vindication, triumph.

President Trump co-opted and promoted initiatives Democrats once claimed, making them his own: incarceration reform, family leave for men and women, infrastructure, high-speed internet for all communities, stamping out human trafficking. Democrats were unwilling to applaud for anything but the pork-barrel possibilities of infrastructure spending.

He also challenged weird and unpopular Democrat policies head-on, from socialized medicine to protecting criminal aliens. President Trump introduced a grieving Hispanic man who lost his beloved brother to a criminal alien released in sanctuary California. It was hard not to cry as the man struggled to hold back his tears. With that very human moment, Trump announced a game-changing tactic against Democrats’ sanctuaries for criminal aliens. “Senator Thom Tillis has introduced legislation to allow Americans like Jody to sue sanctuary cities and states when a loved one is hurt or killed as a result of these deadly policies.”

Another one of Trump’s signature end-runs around seemingly impregnable Democrat resistance.

Trump trolled the Democrats with fearless in-your-face conservative causes such as Second Amendment rights and prayer in the schools.

One of the greatest moments was bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on broadcaster Rush Limbaugh.

Previous Republican presidents have never had the nerve to associate themselves with the brilliant, funny, accomplished, and cherished Limbaugh, for fear of the media blowback. President Trump walks right through those cowardly self-imposed limits and sets off fireworks.

Where Trump showed political genius over and over, the Democrats came across as political morons.

And so it continued all night, culminating in President Trump’s rousing love song to Americans and America:

Our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic ever to exist in all of human history. And we are making it greater than ever before! . . . We settled the new world, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God. America is the place where anything can happen! America is the place where anyone can rise. And here, on this land, on this soil, on this continent, the most incredible dreams come true! This Nation is our canvas, and this country is our masterpiece. . . . Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun!

It was at that moment that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stood, during the thunderous applause, and tore up President Trump’s speech. It was no fit of pique. She had obviously practiced and realized she had to divide the speech in segments and rip each one. Her gesture was disrespectful, petty and vindictive, but perhaps worst of all, ludicrous.

The ranks of President Trump’s supporters are swelling with former Democrats, with independents, with blacks and Hispanics, and with former nonvoters. He has earned their trust and their enthusiasm through bona fide real-life achievements. Trump has surprised everyone with his capabilities. He has unleashed the power of Americans to make our country great. We’ve never had a president like him.

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About Karin McQuillan

Karin McQuillan served in the Peace Corps in West Africa, was a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, and is now a writer and regular contributor to American Thinker and American Greatness.

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