Government should love Americans, President Donald Trump said in his Feb. 28 speech to the joint session of Congress.
That view is very different from the 2016 State of the Union speech when President Barack Obama called on the people to express their love for each other via government. “I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time. That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love,” Obama said.
Obama’s focus on government is 180-degrees from Trump’s perspective. “True love for our people requires us [politicians] to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future,” Trump told the roughly 450 politicians, judges and generals gathered in the Capitol.
Trump cited love eight times in his speech, and Obama cited love six times in his last State of the Union in 2016.
Three times, Trump focused on the love that enables Americans to become soldiers and police.
Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound … Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna. Jenna: I want you to know that your [police] father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you … For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Two times, Obama cited homosexual love, saying “we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love … It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.”
Both politicians cited love and disease, but from a very different perspective. “Megan’s story [of medical progress] is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter,” Trump said about one guest whose deadly disease has been partly cured by her entrepreneur father.
Obama, in contrast, portrayed government as the means for Americans to show their love, saying:
Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.
Obama continued to describe government as the means for Americans to demonstrate and express their love:
I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen – inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word – voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.
They’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing… I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.
That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.
In contrast, Trump talked about how government — and new immigrants — should love Americans as they are.
“True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future,” Trump told the politicians watching his first Capitol Hill speech.
Government has an obligation to protect Americans from illegal immigrants, he insisted. “To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?”
Immigrants also must love the people who invited them to live among their children, Trump said.
It is not compassionate, but reckless [for government], to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.
Trump also cited love in his hard-edged inauguration speech, saying “to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us [in government] along the way.”