Sunday, January 22, 2017

Everett (WA) Herald's staff editorial for January 22,2017

In Our View

Editorial: President Trump’s address contradicts his call for unity

  • Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion   By The Herald Editorial Board

As far as inaugural addresses go, President Donald Trump’s 17-minute speech following the oath of office on Friday was no “with malice toward none, with charity toward all.”

Admittedly, Lincoln’s second inaugural address is an unfairly high bar to set for any president that has followed him.

But Presidents Lincoln and Trump saw it as their responsibility through their addresses to inspire a divided country to rebuild the nation and heal its divisions
Lincoln was speaking to a nation that was two month’s away from an end to the Civil War’s hostilities. Although the Confederacy was waning, Lincoln was wary that four years of war might not end soon and knew that God could still require as payment for the sin of slavery that “every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn by the sword.”

Yet Lincoln used his address to set the stage for reconciliation and Reconstruction to “bind up the nation’s wounds” and “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

No one expected — nor was it required — for Trump to speak with Lincoln’s prose or eloquence.
Yet, in Trump’s inaugural address, his message of unity was too often contradicted by divisive themes that carried him during his presidential campaign.

There were moments that inspired optimism for the next four years, such as this near the end of his address:
“The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

But there were other passages that seemed intended only to fix blame and stoke division.

How should the nation’s teachers view Trump’s comment about “an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge”?

Certainly, more can and should be done for our students, particularly those that struggle in school districts and schools that are not adequately or fairly funded. Washington state’s Legislature is now working under a Supreme Court mandate to find a solution that amply and equitably supports our schools. But it is laughable hyperbole at best and insulting at worst to suggest that our students have been “deprived of all knowledge.”

And was Trump encouraging patriotism or blind nationalism in passages such as this?
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”

Trump won the presidency in part on the strength of a dark message of inner city poverty and crime and factories closed and moved out of the country. But the picture that Trump painted in order to make his case for the change he seeks to lead often ignored actual statistics and played down the progress that has been made and that we all have worked for.

The ongoing tragedy in Detroit and its jump in homicides can’t be ignored, but the overall U.S. crime rate has dropped dramatically from highs in the early- to mid-1990s and is lower than it has been since 1970.

The rebound in the economy and jobs has yet to reach all corners of the U.S., but unemployment, now at 4.7 percent, is at its lowest point in 10 years.

Again, the problems are real and must continue to have our attention and that of our leaders.
But Trump reached for drama instead of inspiring resolve and a commitment to work together:
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now!”
What purpose is served by what the president wrote more as an applause line than a sincere call to action?

Trump has only just begun his administration. The majority of the American people have not given him much of a honeymoon. A Fox News poll showed just 37 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance leading up to the inauguration, compared to 54 percent who do not.

America, indeed, has work ahead to address crime, poverty and drug addiction, reform Medicare and Social Security, ensure that all have access to health care, that our schools are well funded and providing good educations, rebuild infrastructure and put the unemployed and underemployed back to work at good wages.

But the only way we get there is for ourselves and our president to speak and act with less malice and more charity.

No comments: