OSU professor weighs in on State of the Union

OSU professor shares some themes he expects President Trump to address during the State of the Union.

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 6:00 PM

CORVALLIS – President Donald Trump will give his first State of the Union Address Tuesday evening.

Associate Professor of History at OSU Christopher Nichols said people should be interested in the address not only because it’s the president’s first one, but because it will give people an idea of what is on the administration agenda for this year.

Nichols said the State of the Union sets the stage for the president to address Congress publicly.

Therefore, he believes it is a great opportunity he said for President Trump to really bring people together and address issues such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the economy, and foreign policies.

Nichols said he would not be surprised to see President Trump keep his speech short and focuses only on the positives. In fact, he anticipates controversial topics like the MeToo movement to not be mentioned at all.

What he does expect to be discussed is the economy -- specifically trade policy, jobs, and a report on the economy and then see how that ties in with foreign policy.

Within foreign policy Nichols expects the president to push forward his protectionist ideas on other countries such as “America First.” He also anticipates the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations to also be a topic of discussion along with the U.S. - Russia policy.

He said it is very likely the president will talk about renegotiating the terms of NAFTA, especially since Canada has been a good partner. Nichols also said there is one very important thing to pay close attention to.

“The kinds of language that this president tends to use related to people, groups, and nations is the kind of language we need to be on the lookout for in this address and in all of his speeches, and tweets, and other missives to the world,” he said.

Nichols advises people to watch how President Trump articulates the economic goals.

“We’ve heard about jobs, we’ve heard about the stock market, but what are the specific policies?" he said.

He said it is equally important to take note of the important issues that are left out of the address. Nichols also highlighted this year is a mid-term election year and the themes projected in the address will influence the mid-term election in November.

"We need to think about the power of words," Nichols said. "The power of ideas is often what we emphasize when we think about political history of states of the union and inaugural addresses, but the other piece here is the language itself -- words really matter."

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