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Culture > News

State of the Union Sparks Reactions from Students

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

President Donald Trump delivered his annual State of the Union address Tuesday, February 4th, with many highly optimistic claims of how our country is doing right now, along with some jabs at abortion rights and illegal immigrants. 

So, I decided to learn more from current students at American University because I was curious to see their reactions to the State of the Union address. One student interviewed was Lily Theders, a freshman at American University

Theders commented on the controversial awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh. 

Theders said that “a sexist, white supremacist like Rush Limbaugh is an insult to true freedom fighters like Martin Luther King Jr, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, and Dolores Huerta.” 

Theders also responded to Trump’s pro-life statements.

“If Trump were truly pro-life and really wanted to cut back on the rate of abortion in our nation, he would work for social change which would make parenthood more affordable and attainable to financially disadvantaged.” 

She also discussed that banning abortion would take us back to the 1970s prior to Roe v Wade and push those seeking to terminate a pregnancy to unsafe and unsanitary methods such as intentionally causing a miscarraige or seeking an abortion by an unlicensed or inexperienced person. 

Sam Pulido, a sophomore at American University, added to Theders’ conversation on the issue of abortion.

“The misconception that women receiving late-term abortions are heartless, irresponsible murderers is continuously pushed by psuedo conspiracy theorists such as POTUS himself,” Pulido said.

When Theders was asked about her reaction to Pelosi’s ripping of Trump’s speech, she said she personally rolled her eyes. Theders further explained her perspective saying that Pelosi has voted to increase the military budget every single year since Trump has been in office. She added that Pelosi has aided Trump in his “disgraceful, militaristic approach” to American foreign policy. 

In addition to the moment when Trump’s speech was ripped, Trump later labeled Pelosi’s actions as “illegal.” Pulido had some interesting thoughts on this. 

“If Americans are subject to legal punishment for taking a non violent stance against their leader, our democracy is under serious criticism.”

Thrisha Mohan, another freshman at American University, also commented on this. Mohan said, “She wasn’t breaking the law. She has the right to do whatever she wants to do.”

To anyone surprised by anything that Trump said in his speech, Theders says you should’ve given more attention over the past five years because his speech is “nothing new.” 

“He has always been a racist, demagogic, lunatic since day one when he announced his run and called Mexicans rapists and criminals,” Theders added. 

Theders also gave a brief historical summary on political inaction. Theders said, “History has not looked kindly upon those who have stood by and watched the atrocities of the past play out.” 

Mohan also had some thoughts to consider for people not planning on voting in 2020. “I understand that it’s easy to not care but if you don’t there is very little you can do about the current state of affairs if you don’t vote.”

Pulido had some additional advice on this topic, reminding the public of what happened in 2016.

“For those who do not think their vote will matter, keep in mind only 58% of the voting-eligible population practiced their right to vote in 2016, and the winner of the popular vote lost the presidential election. America’s youth needs to turn out this November.”

Theders ended the interview with thoughts on what Trump’s speech means going forward. 

“Trump’s speech just reinforced to me that we must bring back honor to the office and the entire affair reminded me even further that we need real structural change to our government.” 

Sign Immigrants make America Great
Mohan added some advice for people thinking about voting for Trump in 2020.

“I would say think about your values rather than your feelings because his rhetoric employs tactics that are based on an emotional reaction to things that he is saying rather than a nuanced understanding.”

Theders ended her interview with some final thoughts on the current state of our government and its future. 

“The government is no longer working for the people and I could even argue that it never has. We need a revolution and Bernie will provide that.”

I also interviewed a student on the opposite end of the political spectrum who had positive opinions of President Trump’s State of the Union address. Her name is Rose Laoutaris, and she’s a freshman at American University

Laoutaris said that it was “definitely a very tense atmosphere having Speaker Pelosi who just impeached him sitting behind him, but I’m glad he stuck to the script and showed the nation that he can be more presidential, as well as highlight the accomplishments of the United States within the past year.” 

In addition, Trump’s pro-life claims sparked some passionate reactions from Laoutaris. She referenced some recent related events such as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam defending infanticide, the pro-abortion bills being passed in New York (which allow non-physicians to perform abortions and loosen restriction on late-term abortion), and the failure to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in the Senate. 

Laoutaris also mentioned the guests brought during the speech, Robin Schneider and her daughter Ellie (who was born at 21 weeks). Laoutaris commented on this saying that “many in our society think it is completely fine to abort a child at 21 weeks, even when they have the potential to survive on their own and are clearly human beings.” 

One of Laoutaris’ favorite lines of President Trump’s speech was when he said that “every child is a miracle of life.” 

Laoutaris loved hearing from the guests at the State of the Union address. She said, “Our country is great because of people like them, and I love seeing them get the recognition they deserve.” 

In reaction to the moment when Pelosi ripped up President Trump’s speech, Laoutaris said that it was “incredibly disrespectful and unnecessary.” 

Lautoris further discussed and clarified her opinion of Trump. She said, “I don’t agree with all of his policies or how he acts at times. But, I certainly do not want to see any of the Democrats running win the presidency. Especially candidates as far left as Bernie Sanders.” 

In addition, Lautoris said that she would tell Trump supporters that they have made the right choice. 

To people who are considering not voting, Lautoris said, “Even if you don’t love Trump as a person, it is important to vote to prevent these Democratic candidates from winning, as their policies would be disastrous for our country.” 

Donald Trump beside man in black suit
History in HD / Unsplash

Sujala Chittor

American '23

Hi, I'm Sujala and I'm a freshman at American University! I'm an SOC major, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Marketing.