Last week during his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump delivered an inspiring and uplifting message that seemed quite Reaganesque. I was extraordinarily proud of what he had to say and how he chose to say it.
In stark contrast to the highly polarized and partisan political environment, the president sought to unify rather than divide the country. While he rightly pointed to several achievements realized during his administration, he also called for action and solutions on some pressing problems currently holding our nation back.
I was pleased that the president focused on areas where bipartisan agreement is possible and that he recognized instances where both sides have already worked together to achieve a positive result. During his speech, the president reflected, “In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new Farm Bill, historic VA reforms, and, after four decades of rejection, we passed VA Accountability so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans. And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform.”
During his address, the president pointed out that progress can still be made in confronting the opioid epidemic, curing pediatric cancer, reducing pricing on prescription drugs and defeating HIV and AIDS. And he once again challenged both parties to produce a meaningful and substantial infrastructure bill to further strengthen our nation’s economy and enhance our ability to compete with other countries for the jobs of the future.
Not surprisingly, the president also renewed his call for bipartisan solutions to secure the southern border and improve our immigration system. He pointed out the ongoing dangers for those immigrants making the journey illegally—including the risk of being trafficked. And he acknowledged the bad actors attempting to bring in lethal drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Like the president, I agree that we must work with our border enforcement agents to determine the right solutions—whether it be more physical barriers, technology, infrastructure or personnel.
Along with his call for solutions, President Trump highlighted several achievements from the past two years. He rightly pointed out the exceptional economic growth that has taken place and led to record-low unemployment, wage growth and job creation. He also noted the great success in negotiating better trade deals for the United States, rebuilding the military and reining in excessive regulations. There is no question that the country is stronger because of the president’s focused leadership in these areas.
Without question, the president appealed to both sides of the aisle. As he poignantly challenged those listening in the House chamber and across the country, “When we are united, we can make astonishing strides for our country.”
Especially in divided government, it is critical that both chambers of Congress and the president work together to make new strides. I hope both parties will embrace the clear and common goals President Trump outlined to improve the lives of Americans and unify us all.
Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, is currently serving in his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was identified as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” by Time Magazine and “the hardest working Member of Congress,” by Newsmax. In 2017, Cole was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.