“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
-Donald Trump, State of the Union Address
It was a typically Trumpian cavalcade of disconnected thoughts, fake stats, and pure nonsense, the President jumping not-so-seamlessly between feigned compassion and dog whistle racism, between concocted accomplishments and a country in crisis. It was at times confusing, at others as though the President himself was confused, like his teleprompter was missing the appropriate paragraph or applause breaks.
Much pity for any sad soul who sat through the whole 80 minutes, as I did.
However, for those lucky enough to have missed it, there was at least one moment amongst the avalanche of debauchery that warrants mention.
It was the moment when Trump, always on the prowl for cheap heat–in this case, statements that both parties would feel obligated to clap for–proclaimed, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
First of all, the validity of this statement is dependent on what is meant by “socialist country.” The United States military is a government-run program everyone pays for, hypothetically for the benefit of everyone, and, as such, seems to be the largest ‘socialist’ program in the world. Then there is the ever-ongoing, as Martin Luther King said, “socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.” Who got bailed out … with everyone’s money … after the economic crash, and who didn’t?
Of course, Trump did not mean ‘socialist country’ in either of these ways, instead, attempting to invoke the familiar Soviet boogeyman — we’ll never be a sad, gray dictatorship like those damn Commies!
The statement itself was as predictable as it was uninteresting and does not represent the moral of this story. No, what was interesting was the response the statement got from the assembled government representatives.
Republicans lept to their feet and clapped; Nancy Pelosi, sitting behind the President, clapped, as did many Democrats. But not all Democrats, with many sitting stone-faced, not clapping at all.
Serious question: When was the last time a sizeable portion of a sitting United States Congress would have publically, and somewhat dramatically, rejected a chance to condemn socialism and reaffirm their capitalist credentials?
Maybe the early-1900s?