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Choose Your Fighter: Nancy Pelosi vs. Donald Trump at the State of the Union Address

This week has been historical for U.S. politics. Besides the very big and very controversial acquittal of Donald Trump, the State of the Union Address the previous night turned out to be nothing short of dramatic. Not only did Donald Trump ignore Nancy Pelosi’s outreached hand (which wasn’t really cool of him), but Pelosi also proceeded to rip in half the copy of his speech as she sat behind him. Some are wondering whether she ripped the speech because he snubbed her, or whether she had been planning to do it the entire time. The entire nation became witness yet again to the seemingly never-ending feud between Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump. Was this justified? Some critics are calling for her to resign, while others are applauding her for her bold move. No matter your opinion, this gesture inarguably had an effect on Pelosi’s image in terms of the many hats that she wears.

As Speaker of the House…

Pelosi is one of the most influential politicians today. As third in the presidential line of succession, she holds immense power. It’s no secret that the relationship between the President and the Speaker has always been strained, but as Speaker of the House, she is also held to the highest level of professionalism. Ripping the President’s speech on national television as she sat directly behind him is arguably unprofessional. However, it does send a big message. The House of Representatives has been at war with the Senate since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, and it reached its tipping point this week with the end of the impeachment trial. As Speaker of the House, Pelosi is demonstrating her disappointment in the result of the trial, which was obviously going to end in an acquittal with a Republican Senate majority.

As a Democrat…

Being a Democrat in Congress in today’s political climate is not easy. With a Republican president and a Republican Senate majority, it’s been difficult for the Democratic House majority to get anything done. The Democrat vs. Republican opposition has turned into a downright rivalry during this administration due to the divisive nature of Trump’s policies, rhetoric, and actions. For Pelosi, as a Democrat, ripping Trump’s speech only fueled the fire. It’s hard to imagine the fire settling down anytime soon, especially after the acquittal. 

As a Woman…

Not only is Pelosi one of the most influential politicians today, but she is also one of the most influential women in politics. Not to mention, she will go down in history as the first female to become Speaker of the House. This in itself has shown women that it’s possible to break into the highest echelons of politics. It’s debatable whether or not her decision to tear Trump’s speech was petty and unnecessary, but it did make a point. Donald Trump has been characterized for his offensive comments and actions undermining the identities of women, people of color, disabled individuals, and the LGBTQ+ community. As a woman, Pelosi’s decision to make an insulting gesture literally behind Trump’s back is powerful. It is a physical demonstration of her refusal to accept how he has affected oppressed Americans, although it may not have been intended to send this specific message. 

It’s unclear to what extent Nancy Pelosi’s actions will have an effect in the upcoming weeks, but it did tell us a lot about what we already know: you won’t ever catch her backing down from a fight.

Sarah is a senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in political science and minoring in French and communication, and the current President of Her Campus UConn! In her spare time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading, and hiking.
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