My Analysis of the 2018 State of the Union

Sister Simone Campbell
February 1, 2018

In the State of the Union, President Trump gave lip service to the importance of faith and family. The reality is the vast majority of his proposals have actually hurt families and violate the faith principles that we at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice value.

Here are my three takeaways from the State of the Union:

1. My faith teaches that we are all one human family and we belong to each other. But, President Trump used faith and family to divide us. His dog whistles and racist inferences are, in fact, the antithesis of faith and family. For example, President Trump’s hyper-concern for the flag and the national anthem shows lack of understanding of free speech, religious liberty, and constitutional rights. It is appalling that the peaceful protests against police brutality draw public presidential indignation, while the marches of white supremacists, which resulted in a woman’s death, go unchallenged.

2. President Trump used buzzwords that might have sounded good on the surface, but lacked substance.  While President Trump used phrases like paid family leave and job training, there are no policy proposals to make the buzzwords real. We see this causing problem after problem on Capitol Hill. I think of it as ‘tweeting out of the both sides of his mouth.’ President Trump pushes Congress to act, without clarity about policies that are – or aren’t – on the table for negotiation. He misstated his involvement in successful policies and at the same time lied about the repercussions of his proposals.

3. President Trump let his true colors show on immigration. While he mentioned a solution to DACA that includes a pathway to citizenship, his anti-immigrant rhetoric shows his real motive. Led by White House staff John Kelly and Stephen Miller, it is clear that the Administration will use this DACA crisis to push more anti-immigrant policies. When he uses hateful rhetoric like “chain migration,” he villainizes immigrants and refuses to address the real needs of families in the U.S. Our nation’s immigrant story is one of hope and aspiration. It is not the story of fear and hate that President Trump spun in his talk.

As a lobby, NETWORK’s primary focus is on legislation. We look for every chance we have to advance an agenda for the common good. The only way we will be able to do this is if we are all equipped and prepared to bring the truth to conversations, not just sound bites.

A few truths:

  • Immigrants make our country better, and Dreamers and their families are here to stay.
  •  The gaps in economic inequality are still wide, and the recently passed tax bill will make them wider.
  •  The reality of 21st Century Poverty is that wages are insufficient to lift people out of poverty. Safety net programs like the EITC, SNAP, Medicaid, and more are critical because jobs are not paying enough and businesses are not providing benefits.

NETWORK’s response to the State of the Union is this:  NETWORK is committed to our mission to make sure that Congress and the Administration create policies to mend the gaps in economic and wealth inequality, not exacerbate them.