Punch me in the face and tell me you love me.
After Trump’s first address to Congress, I feel like we (the American people) are in an abusive relationship with the President of the United States.
Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop. And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.
This all sounds good. Yes, I want him to love me, the American people. I want roads, jobs, tax reform, great schools, health care reform, safety, the defeat of ISIS, and general prosperity. I want that kind of love. However, I fear that Trump’s love comes with sunglasses and scarves to hide the bruises.
Trump’s address was positive. It was filled with messages of unity and progress — both in terms of economic and political growth. I saw a president who’s message was one of Puritan work ethic leading to the American Dream. I grew uncomfortable, however, when he shined a spotlight on certain “average” citizens in the audience. It felt raw, exposed and false. It felt like the family that lives in a beautiful McMansion in the suburbs who appear to have it all but are trying too hard to convince others. I felt like he was exploiting the recent widow and the college success story. I laughed to myself (sort of hysterically), that I could hear the collective crying in thousands of households where people were touched by these sad and heroic stories.
An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all. Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past 5. On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame.
He began his speech discussing the threats and attacks on Jewish community centers and the shooting of Indian engineers in Kansas City:
Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.
It was appropriate to begin with these events and it was necessary. His message was positive and just. However, I was crouching on my sofa thinking that Trump helped to make a climate for these attacks to increase. I grow apprehensive that his rhetoric will morph again and attacks will become common place. I also wonder if the reported uptick in hate group membership has peaked, or are these groups just gaining speed? Ultimately, I wanted to release a primal scream that called out the victim’s name. His name was Srinivas Kuchibhotla! But that name is hard to pronounce and foreign, and how do you say it?
And then, President Trump discussed my sweet spot — education. That is when I began to listen. He said:
Education is the civil rights issue of our time. I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.
I know some very cute kids in Akron, Ohio that have benefitted from a school choice program. Children should have access to the best schools. De facto segregation has gone on for far too long. So, yes show me this love of education, but also tell me what will happen to the public schools that these children exit from?
Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.
Denisha Merriweather’s story is important. She is a very good example of the need for quality education. I have a similar story. However, I was able to benefit from a strong public school system. Although President Trump is expressing his love and concern for America’s youth, I fear that President Trump’s love for school choice will lead to the privatization of education. Schools, like governments, are not businesses. If schools are run like businesses they will fail like many businesses do.
President Trump ended his speech with the following message to his beloved American people:
Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.
All I could think of is the archetype of the wife beater who tells his battered wife that he will stop. He will change. It will be better this time. Just have faith. Just give him a chance.