Donald Trump loves winning. But, recently, his streak was broken after a shutdown fight failed to end the way he hoped it would. After an agreement was reached which did not include funding for Trump's border wall, the mainstream media unanimously declared Nancy Pelosi the “winner” of the contest.
During his State of the Union speech, tonight, Trump will be eager for a win. But, as I pointed out yesterday, scoring political points might not be the best strategy for turning tonight’s national address into a political victory. Government shutdown has contributed to America’s growing fatigue over political hyper-partisanship, which means that Americans might not want to hear any more partisan bickering. Instead, Americans could be hungry for a message of unity.
Here are three things Trump can do in his address, tonight, which might give him the win he is looking for:
First, Trump should bring forward some veterans from the fight against ISIS in Syria. After recognizing their service, he should tout their success against ISIS, pointing out that ISIS has been deprived of all territory in Syria. Trump should declare victory, but he should not take the credit for himself. He should point to the service members and tell them it is their victory. And after the wild applause dies down, he should move straight into a call for American unity.
“That is the thing I love about our service men and women who wear the uniform. It’s not just your success on the battlefield, which is amazing—you guys really kicked @$# over there. But the thing I love is when you put on a uniform of the United States military, all differences are set aside, and you become one, a unit—you’re Americans first. There is no male or female. There is no distinction of color. The only colors are red, white, and blue. And that loyalty, that brotherhood, sets an incredible example for all Americans. I thank you so much for your service. And I thank you even more for the incredible example you set for our country.”
Second, Trump should point to Nick Sandmann, the kid from Covington Catholic high school who was confronted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites and a Native American activist while attending the March for Life. Donald Trump should, once again, call for unity. He should blame the rush to judgment on an unfortunate tendency to believe the worst about people, rather than let all the facts come out. Trump should directly apologize to Nick for the way he was treated, and tell him that America can do better. He could end his comments with words like this:
“It saddened me that this horrible event took place so close to the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Needless to say, he would not be proud of what happened that day. He would not support the vile racism that the Black Hebrew Israelites hurled at you precious boys. Nor would he support the fake news that went around the country that claimed you and your schoolmates were being racists. No, you were not there opposing the cause of Civil Rights that day. You were there defending rights—the rights of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society, the unborn. And you should be proud of that.”
Third, Donald Trump should end his remarks by shifting the topic to the border crisis. He should begin by being as inclusive as he possibly can, with the goal of forcing Democrats to stand and applaud or risk looking like the oppose border security. His remarks could begin like this:
“All Americans are concerned about border security. Both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have assured me that they, too, take border security extremely seriously—and I trust them. Americans are a generous people. We don’t want mass deportations. But we do want a safe and secure border. And the government must be responsive to this need. America must have secure borders.”
At this point, President Trump should wait for applause, giving the Democrats time to fully decide whether or not to stand. During that time, Trump should turn around and gesture toward Nancy Pelosi. If she is applauding, Trump should nod at her. If she is not applauding, Trump should gesture for her support—and, if she refuses, he turn back toward the front with an eye-roll. It is at this moment that Trump should recognize a victim of a crime linked to illegal border crossing—preferably a border patrol agent. While thanking him for his service, he should leave several pauses for applause so that Democrats are forced to stand. His remarks could go something like this.
“Thank you for your service to this country. You guys have a tough job, and often a thankless one. So, again, I thank you. America thanks you. What you went through is the reason why border security must happen. And it must happen now. You guys deserve all the help you can get; not excuses why certain protective measures might not work. And that is why, tonight, I am renewing the pledge I made on the campaign trail, and will partner with you to get border security done right for the American People. This will happen. The time is now. America, read my lips: I will build this wall.”
These are the ways I think Trump could win, tonight. I am eager see if he has even bigger surprises in store.