Like many Americans, I watched President Trump give his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. In his address, the President called for unity. The words, when read from a Teleprompter, offered the impression of a changed man. But the call stood in stark contrast from the policies his administration has pursued. In his single year as president, we have witnessed passionate resistance provoked by the actions and tweets of the President. From the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter to those who protested against the violence in Charlottesville and voted to change a senate seat in Alabama, people in blue states and red states are organizing anew and taking a stand for American ideals. True to the old saying, the President’s divisive actions speak louder than his rehearsed words about unity. Calls to set aside differences mean nothing if not backed by action.
In contrast, while Representative Joe Kennedy III’s response to the State of the Union invoked a similar message of unity, his words were backed by a compassionate policy platform that seeks a better life for everyone in this country. Kennedy’s call to leave no American behind was uplifting and inspiring. He rejected the impulse to pit groups against each other, the notion that policy outcomes are a zero-sum game in which some must lose if others are to succeed. His words carried meaning because his plans support them.
Elected leaders should commit that 2018 be a time to search for opportunities to set aside differences. Words are not enough. It’s time to do what’s right for all our people.