UConn community reacts to ‘Divisive’ State of the Union Address


President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump appraised the well-being of the nation Tuesday in a State of the Union address bookended by tense interactions with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

In between snubbed handshakes and torn speeches, President Trump decried the “far left” and socialism while calling for bipartisanship and cooperation between the parties. 

“We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before,” President Trump said early in his speech. “But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.” 

However, for a night featuring no shortage of calls for unity, Democrats and Republicans appeared far from unified. 

When asked about the decision to tear up her copy of President Trump’s speech, Speaker Pelosi said in an interview with NBC News “it was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative,” and later referred to the address as a “manifesto of mistruths.”  

Such political maneuvers were not lost on members of the UConn community. 

“I thought it was very unprofessional for the Speaker of the House to do that,” Jack Bergantino, a fourth-semester economics major said. “I didn’t agree with a lot of what President Trump said either, but I don’t think that really advances the public debate.” 

Some, such as eighth-semester digital media and design major Sean Bollman, were not surprised by Speaker Pelosi’s act of defiance. 

“There haven’t been a lot of kind words exchanged between the House Speaker and the President lately,” Bollman said. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of good feelings on either side.” 

Others called into question the sincerity of President Trump’s calls for bipartisanship. 

“It seems like something he would do,” Zach Adler, an eighth-semester chemical engineering major said. “But he’s definitely hypocritical and has a lot to work on himself I think.” 

“I don’t believe it’s entirely sincere,” Bergantino said. “He certainly hasn’t helped the political discourse – I mean take one look at his Twitter feed. All around I think there’s a lack of reaching across the aisle.” 

Notably absent from the address was any mention of the President’s ongoing impeachment trial. 

“I think Trump always knows what to say, and it would have made him seem weak if he had mentioned [the trial],” Adler said. “With the Republican majority in the Senate I don’t think he had anything to worry about anyhow, so being confident was probably smart for him.” 

Bollman similarly saw the political advantage in not mentioning the trial. 

“It doesn’t seem like it would benefit his campaign so even with his temper, and I’m sure he wanted to talk about it, he held back for his best interests,” he said. 

Overall, some, like Bergantino, were left with a sour taste in their mouth. 

“I think it’s pretty unfortunate how divisive both sides are,” he said. “Between the speech itself to the Speaker of the House ripping up his speech behind him, I think it’s pretty sad all around.” 

Nick Smith is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.h.smith@uconn.edu.

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