President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech on 31 January 2018. As far as speeches go, excluding policy points and all areas of the speech we may disagree with (which for libertarians, can be a lot), overall I believe it went well. Nothing outlandish was said, no Nazi salutes (please, don’t take this seriously), and not much trolling, so it was not a speech you would expect to be given on Trump’s personal Twitter account.
Thus, not much new was revealed other than the fact that the President does have the ability to speak in a more unifying way when he needs to or when he feels the need to.
There were definitely some revealing moments as far as the responses to the speech go. Maybe not revealing in the sense that the responses were something we have never seen before, but more of a stronger confirmation of revelations people within our circle have been observing for several years now.
The revelations were that political philosophies and policies don’t matter all that much when it comes to supporting your given party; that playing for “your team” has become the most important aspect, even when that team no longer represents what you believe in. It also showed that attacking the other team is the second most important aspect in politics, even when that team is promoting a policy that you believe in.
At the speech, Republicans stood and cheered as Trump pressed for the amnesty of millions of undocumented immigrants. They sat when President Barack Obama advocated for much of the same thing.
Democrats appeared less than pleased as Trump proposed a trillion dollar stimulus package for infrastructure as the Republicans cheered him on with applause. It wasn’t that long ago the when script was completely flipped, as Republicans fought President Obama on a stimulus package as the Democrats rooted him on.
It also wasn’t long ago when Democrats were standing behind Obama and his wanting to intervene militarily in Syria as the Republicans fought him on it. Now the Democrats are completely against Trump’s interventionist rhetoric against North Korea as the Republicans laud him as the next Ronald Reagan for that same rhetoric.
The hypocrisy doesn’t just stop there; it goes on and on as the two disingenuous parties become hungrier for that one thing they want above all else: power.
I wish there was some way to perform a face change between Trump and Obama for the speech, because I firmly believe that Obama could have given that same exact speech and the Republicans would have responded exactly like the Democrats did, the Democrats being the ones filling the chamber with applause and approval.
Let us, as libertarians, strive to not be that way.
I hope for the day when the House chamber is filled with more Libertarians and a more libertarian-leaning president is giving that speech. I understand that that seems like bleak possibility at this point in time, but I choose to be optimistic and there are encouraging signs of libertarian-leaning politicians becoming more prominent.
We, of course, had the Ron Paul Revolution. Congress has Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie. Austin Petersen is making a serious run at becoming the challenger for Claire McCaskill and her Missouri Senate seat. Larry Sharpe has been gaining some serious support during his run for Governor of New York.
I’ve just mentioned a group of people I believe are positive promoters of the ideas of liberty and freedom. People we would want representing us. But each of these persons I’ve mentioned are their own person, meaning they have their own ideas and philosophies; a majority of which align with our own ideas and philosophies, but certainly not all.
So while you may absolutely be excited over the potentiality of a President Amash giving a State of the Union address, that does not mean you should stand and applaud everything he says during that address. If you disagree with something he says, instead of giving in and adopting it as something you now agree with and posing as if you’ve always agreed with it, I hope that you would stay true to yourself and what you believe in and continue to oppose your president on that certain issue you differ with him on.
You don’t have to display that opposition in a disrespectful way.
One of the beauties of libertarianism is that we – more than any of the other parties – are able to respect people who have differing beliefs than us. This is the kind individualism we should be fighting for the most.
So as you sit back and observe the never-ending hypocrisies those on the left and right continue to display, I also want you to think of a time in the future where you are the one sitting in those chairs feeling the pressure to stand and applaud something that you personally don’t believe in but feel the need to conform to.
Would you give in to the pressure and play the team politics game? Or would you display what true liberty is and respectfully disagree because you find your conscious to be more important to you than the rush you get by being part of a “unified” pursuit of power?
I hope we will choose liberty, even if that means we have to stand for it by sitting down when no one else is.
* Mark Metz lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has worked at a residential home for 7-12 year old behaviorally challenged boys for four years. He is a former conservative who has converted to libertarianism, and he is now looking to advance the ideas of liberty and freedom.