COLUMN: Stories from State of the Union Show Reasons for American Optimism

February 5, 2018
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Last Tuesday, I listened carefully as President Trump addressed the nation in his first State of the Union. The President’s message aimed to unify Americans behind a common vision while sharing inspiring stories of service, heroism, and sacrifice.

The President pointed to legislative victories with Congress that are yielding benefits for workers and families across the nation. The passage of historic tax reform is fostering economic growth and opportunity: nearly three million workers have received bonuses. The Department of the Treasury has estimated that 90 percent of workers – millions of Americans – will receive more take-home pay.

President Trump reminded the American people of the progress made on behalf of veterans with Congress’ passage of VA Accountability Act – 1,500 VA employees have been removed after its signature into law for failing to provide proper care to veterans. He also shared the story of a 12-year-old, Preston Sharp, who took it upon himself to place 40,000 flags to mark the graves of veterans.

The President recognized the heroism of the “Cajun Navy” and the Coast Guard, which rescued victims of Hurricane Harvey, and he pledged support for the Americans from Texas to Puerto Rico who are still recovering from a devastating hurricane season.

The President extended a hand to both sides of the aisle to encourage Democrats and Republicans to come together on legislation to make a positive solution that gives certainty to DACA recipients and to secure our borders. I support the President’s efforts to negotiate a compromise on immigration.

To illustrate the need for a national response to the tragic opioid crisis afflicting families, the President pointed to Ryan and Rebecca Holets of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is an Albuquerque police officer, and he and his wife made the decision to adopt the baby of a woman – at her own request for a safe home for her child – who was struggling with a heroin addiction.

Addressing threats beyond our borders, the President pointed to the liberation of territories once under the control of ISIS and vowed to continue the fight until the terror group is defeated.

He called out the evil excesses of the North Korean regime, which was directly responsible for the unjust imprisonment of American college student Otto Warmbier, who subsequently died. The story of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who suffered from torture and the loss of family members, shows the brutality of that unhappy nation’s dictatorship. The North Korean people have starved even as the regime devotes resources to building its nuclear program to threaten its neighbors and the U.S.

President Trump’s optimistic message to the nation was clear: This is our “American moment,” when, united as a people, Americans have the opportunity to succeed in solving common challenges. I hope that you have the chance to listen to his encouraging speech that honored the contributions of so many of our fellow citizens.