February 4, 2020, US President Donald Trump will appeal to Congress with the annual message “On the Country.” The history of this event and the messages of Donald Trump is in the TASS material.
The State of the Union Address, literally “the message on the position of the Union,” that is, the states that formed the United States, is an appeal from the President of the United States to Congress. His prototype was the throne speech read by the British monarch during the official opening ceremony of the new parliament session. According to the Constitution of 1787, “the president periodically provides Congress with information on the situation of the Union and recommends such measures as it considers necessary and appropriate for its consideration.”
For the first time, on January 8, 1790, the first president George Washington delivered a similar message to lawmakers, and he laid the tradition to do this annually. But already in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson, who believed that monarchical customs were not suitable for a democratic republic, sent his appeal to Congress in writing. The personal appeal of the head of state was revived in 1913 by Woodrow Wilson, with subsequent presidents sometimes returning to a written tradition (the last was Jimmy Carter in 1981). Until 1935, the message was called the President’s Annual Address to Congress, then Franklin Roosevelt gave it a modern name.
Until 1934, the president turned to lawmakers in December. However, after the adoption of the 20th amendment to the constitution, which postponed the start of Congress from March to January, annual speeches began at the beginning of the year, usually at the end of January. The exceptions are the years the newly elected president takes office. Due to the fact that the inauguration takes place on January 20, the head of state speaks to lawmakers in February. In this case, the president’s appeal is called a keynote speech.
In 1986, the message was first delayed. This happened in connection with the crash of the Challenger spacecraft. The second time the president’s speech was postponed in 2019 amid the suspension of the work of the federal government. This year, the message was postponed in connection with the hearings of the impeachment procedure of Donald Trump, initiated by a democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
In the annual messages, the presidents set forth their vision of the situation in the country, identify priority areas of foreign and domestic policy. Their speeches are considered Congressional legislative programs.
The President reads the message at a joint meeting of both houses of Congress in the presence of judges of the Supreme Court, members of the Joint Chief of Staff and cabinet members. At the same time, one of the ministers is absent from the hall in order to take control of the country in case of emergencies (duty successor – “designated survivor”, designated survivor). The president’s speech is periodically interrupted by applause, by the number and duration of which one can judge the popularity of the head of the White House. At the same time, members of the Supreme Court almost never applaud (which symbolizes their independence from the legislative and executive branches).
The first presidential message broadcast on the radio was the appeal of Calvin Coolidge in 1923, and on television by Harry Truman in 1947. In 1997, President Bill Clinton’s video message was first posted on the Internet; in 2002, George W. Bush became the first president to speak live on the Internet.
According to Nielsen Media Research, in 1993, 66.9 million viewers watched the live broadcast of Bill Clinton’s performance – an absolute record. The worst result in 20 years belongs to Barack Obama – 31.3 million viewers in 2016. 47.74 million people watched the appeal of Donald Trump in 2017, 45.6 million in 2018, and 46.8 million in 2019.
Messages from Donald Trump in 2017-2019
On February 28, 2017, the US President delivered a keynote speech. In it, he accused the Barack Obama administration of having left as a legacy a “series of tragic foreign policy disasters.” The President assured that henceforth Washington will respect “the sovereign rights of (other) countries, the right of all countries to pave their own way” and noted that “America is ready to establish new partnerships where common interests coincide.” Touching upon the issues of cooperation with NATO allies, he confirmed that Washington supports the alliance, but is going to actively seek from its members to increase military spending. Trump never mentioned Russia and the European Union, he only focused on Israel separately, promising to strengthen the “indestructible alliance”. The domestic political part of the president’s speech almost repeated his election program – he announced plans to return millions of jobs and carry out tax reform, which will ease the burden on both business and the middle class. He reiterated his intention to build a wall on the US border with Mexico to curb the flow of illegal immigrants and called for the cancellation of the health insurance program conducted by the Obama administration (known as Obamacare).
On January 30, 2018, Trump announced that “rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals such as China and Russia (more than Russia was not mentioned in the message) confronting the“ American “interests, economy and values” confront the US in the international arena. In his conviction, the United States “must modernize and rebuild its nuclear arsenal” to contain the aggression of other countries. The president promised to maintain pressure on Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and the DPRK. In the domestic political part of the message, Trump announced the continuation of the policy to reduce illegal immigration, the abandonment of the Obamacare program and recalled the success in solving the problem of job placement for Americans (more than 2.4 million workers have been created in the United States since he entered the presidency places).
On February 5, 2019, the president paid much less attention to the problems of world politics than to domestic affairs. In particular, he announced the second U.S. summit – DPRK (February 27-28, Vietnam). In his speech, Trump mentioned the Russian Federation only once, speaking about his readiness to consider the possibility of renegotiating the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) while expanding its membership. The President announced his intention to withdraw American troops from Syria, and in case of constructive negotiations with a number of Afghan associations, including the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation), from Afghanistan. He warned Iran against trying to develop nuclear weapons or take destructive steps in the Middle East. He called the authorities in Tehran “the main sponsor of terrorism” and recalled that Washington had already taken measures (withdrawal from the nuclear deal and economic sanctions) so that Iran “never received nuclear weapons.” Trump stated the need to revise trade policy, in particular with regard to China, which “impedes US imports and violates the rights of American companies in the field of intellectual property. In the domestic political part of the program, the president dwelled on the spread of HIV and childhood cancer in the United States and the need to continue im immigration reform.