Trump Calls for Bipartisanship at SOTU, Then Launches Into Same Divisive Rhetoric

Meanwhile, another possible government shutdown looms large.

President Trump delivered the 2019 State of the Union on Tuesday night before Congress. He called the state of the union strong, while trying to both strike a note of unity and compromise and still give voice to much the same rhetoric and agenda that has dominated his first two years in office.

The speech began with a call for bipartisanship, with the president saying he was “ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.”

donald trump state of the union
Win McNamee/Getty Images

“Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one nation. The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American People,” he added, to applause from both sides.

He said the two parties should come together to deal with issues such as immigration, healthcare, infrastructure, protecting jobs, and America first foreign policy.

Donald Trump State of the Union
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Despite the call for bipartisanship, Trump quickly pivoted to calls for self-protection.

“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution—and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” he said.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump added. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”


Even before the speech he failed to constrain himself, sparring with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, taunting him on Twitter for not winning the Senate for the Democrats.

Trump also used the speech to press for a border wall, noting the government could shutdown again if a compromise can’t be made between the parties.

“Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business,” Trump said.


Despite continuing to fight to get transgender people from serving in the armed forces, hurting overall enlistment numbers, he called for a strengthened military. A number of trans veterans or active service members were in attendance as guests of Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump, as predicted, pledged to put an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic within ten years, although he was scant on the details. The administration is reportedly planning to spend resources in states most affected by the crisis.

The administration has taken money from a program assisting those living with HIV to pay to detain immigrant children, has twice requested cuts to PEPFAR, a program working to combat HIV/AIDS worldwide, and has put a stop to scientists working with fetal tissue who were closing in on a cure to the illness.

The president garnered some unexpected applause when he mentioned the increase of women in the workforce, as well as there being a record number of women in Congress, by female members of the Democratic Party, who stood up and applauded themselves and each other.

congresswomen state of the union
Congresswomen, dressed in white in tribute to the women’s suffrage movement.

“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Trump said, pointing at them and smiling. “Thank you very much.”

While there were moments of what at least looked like bipartisan agreement, it is clear the deep divisions have not been healed and it seems just as likely as not that we could be facing yet another government shutdown.


Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivered the Democratic Party’s response, with an impassioned speech that held Trump to account for his attacks of minority communities, and looked forward to a return to ideals around which the country can truly unite.

Abrams made history tonight as the first African-American woman to officially deliver a State of the Union response.


Journalist, editor, and artist.