I spent the day thinking about the State of the Union speech that was televised last evening. I thought perhaps some reflection would help to temper my knee-jerk reactions.
Well, not so much.
Perhaps it is because I was raised for part of my younger years in an Italian neighborhood on the west side of Buffalo. For the most part, the people of that neighborhood were Blue Collar workers. The big employers were companies like Rich Products, Bethlehem Steel, TRW and municipalities like the City and State. I watched those Blue Collar workers as they managed to buy homes, raise families and send their children to college on their meager wages – even if it meant going without themselves to reach their objectives. Even so, at Sunday Italian dinners, everyone got a seat at the table. No invitations were necessary – another plate and chair would appear from nowhere with the patron at the head of the table saying, “Sit! Sit!” Everyone was welcome.
That having been said, this was also a tough neighborhood with more than its share of shady characters and questionable events. Like John Cammilleri, a local labor union coordinator who had a beef with the Buffalo Crime Family over a construction dispute found out, when he looked down the barrel of a .38 revolver as he walked up to the popular Roseland Restaurant in May of 1974. Clearly, the word “omerta” should have carried more weight with him than it did.
Regardless of whether it was good or bad – you still had to acknowledge that these people were people of their word. If I saw that once living in that neighborhood, I saw it a thousand times. And I respected it.
What I don’t see is that in our President. He is a man without his word.
Rather than being a speech on the current state of our union, it became a speech about what he had hoped to do, what he thought he should be doing for America. Was that his conscience speaking? You know, the Great Equalizer? No. I don’t think he has one of those.
He spoke of the tax advantages to the “average American making $75,000 a year.” Somebody should have made a cliff note that the average American earns just $55,000 a year.
He spoke proudly of the VA Accountability Act. Really? The VA is currently under a hiring freeze, resulting in 41,500 jobs unfilled. This is “taking care of our military?”
He is eager to fulfill his promise to improve infrastructure and, in fact, this is the only promise that he actually told us how he plans to implement it. In this case, it is by funding it through the state level, not the federal level. So, where does the federal money go? I think we all know.
He spoke of “one people – one America.” Diversity has now been officially banned.
He spoke of “faith and family.” Uh, really? Stormy who?
He also suggested that we open vocational schools to “prosper.” What happened to colleges and universities that can educate our children so that perhaps someday we will never, ever again have to talk about cancer?
And on the international side, he would like to only go [do business] with “our friends.” Does the word “isolationism” have any meaning to him whatsoever?
He also had a comment about “we will no longer tell our enemies our plans.” Well, Donald, I’m afraid that one’s on you and your Tweeting Thumbs. There’s no end to what you will divulge.
And to CJ, the ICE Agent … I commend you on a job well done, sir. However, unless you would like to end up like John Cammillieri mentioned above … well, now might be a good time to inquire about the Witness Protection Program.
So, in reflection, I can say that I am one of the more than 77% of Americans who feel that the United States is divided. United we stand. Divided we fall. We cannot fall.
The time for respect is now. The time for unity is now.
The time for everyone to have a seat at the table is now.