Trump to Congress: It's either greatness or gridlock – you decide

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
J.M. Phelps (

Trump SOTU 2019-1On the heels of Nancy Pelosi's move to delay his State of the Union address for a week, President Donald Trump successfully delivered a call for a unified nation from the floor of the House chamber in Tuesday night's prime-time speech.

With great concern for the American people, President Trump declared "victory is not winning for our party; victory is winning for our country." He spoke about the soaring U.S. economy, the historic reduction in regulations, important decisions in foreign policy – and as expected, he emphasized his continued tough stance on illegal immigration.

Seated directly behind the president were Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pence clearly backed his president's agenda, while Pelosi at times seems disinterested.

"Nancy Pelosi wore an almost constant expression that looked like a pitted prune," says investigative journalist, author, and economist James Simpson. Simpson was particular bothered when the 78-year-old House speaker "shuffled papers and remained seated while everyone else stood when President Trump said 'We will not avert our eyes from a regime [Iran] that chants 'Death to America' and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.'"

Nonetheless, despite recent years of defiance from the Democratic Party, the president's clarion call for optimism and unity brought to the forefront what he described as the opportunity to "make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before."

"Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination and control. We are born fee, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

President Donald J. Trump
2019 State of the Union address

He then challenged the members of Congress to seize that opportunity:

"But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution – and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good. Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future.

"The decision is ours to make. We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness."

Now, about that wall ...

Congressman Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana) was in attendance to hear the president's speech. He likes what he heard.


"[President Trump] delivered an uplifting and powerful vision for American greatness," says Higgins, adding that under the leadership of Donald Trump conservative policies have made the nation "safer, stronger, and more secure." Evidence of that, he argues, is seen through "historic economic growth, more jobs, and greater opportunity for all Americans."

In the face of relentless Democratic opposition to secure the southern border, Trump clearly expressed his desire for legal immigration. He asked a divided Congress to cooperate "to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country."

"When [Trump] spoke about coming together as a nation and putting aside revenge politics, he knew full well that the Democrats are not bringing that to the table – that's not who they are. However, that resounded with the American people. This is him saying Listen, we can move past that – we can work together, but we have to try. It's an olive branch ... and if they don't grab it, it's going to be squarely their fault."

Nicole Bennett
Project 21 Black Leadership Network

"... America is not divided because of Donald Trump.  America is so divided because the left is seeking to 'fundamentally transform' our country. I know many people wish there could be compromise. But on many of these issues, there is no compromise to be had. Either we respect the sanctity of life or we do not. Either we secure the border or we do not. Either we remain a nation committed to free markets and individual liberty or we do not. Either we cherish our history and traditions or we do not."

Gary Bauer, president
American Values

"... He needed to respond to what a majority of Americans are just outraged about, which is the state of New York passing a new law allowing abortions up until birth. He rightly condemned the passage of that law and was very eloquent about that. He also needed to talk about Virginia's governor promoting infanticide ... He hit that out of the park by mentioning just how problematic that is and standing up for the dignity of every human being. And then from a Christian perspective, the president did something that's very important – and that is to talk about how all children, born and unborn, in his words, are made in the holy image of God."

Steven Ertelt, editor

"It was incredibly exciting and encouraging to see a president for the first time – no other president has spoken so powerfully, so specifically on the issue of life – to speak into the issues of the day and to urge Congress to send legislation to his desk that would get the United States off the list of only seven countries worldwide that allow elective abortion after 20 weeks. It was a very powerful moment – perhaps the most powerful moment."

Mallory Quigley, VP of communications
Susan B. Anthony List

He continued: "No issue better illustrates the divide between America's working class and American's political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards. Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration."

Then he reminded Congress it has until February 15 to respond to "a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on the southern border" – adding that "in the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built."

He then boldly emphasized: "I will get it built."

Congressman Higgins understands the president's desire for the Democratic Party "to put aside the politics of resistance and obstruction [and] work together on the serious challenges facing our nation." But that, he says, requires compromise – which the two sides are having difficulty attaining.

"We must secure our southern border, modernize our infrastructure, and continue the American economic expansion," says the Louisiana Republican, pointing out that Trump and the Republican Party are ready "to seek reasonable compromise."

"But it takes willing parties on both sides," he continues. "I am hopeful, prayerful even, that my Democratic colleagues will come to the table and put the interests of the American citizenry, that we have sworn to serve, over those of foreign nationals."

Following multiple chants of "USA! USA! USA!" from the audience throughout the evening, the president closed the night, telling the American people "we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history" and that "this is the time to re-ignite the American imagination."

He concluded with this admonition: "We must always keep faith in America's destiny – that one nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world."

Watch President Trump's 2019 SOTU in its entirety
(begins at the 15:10 mark)


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