You Don’t Have to Love the President to Be Happy for America

Alone in a hotel room on Tuesday night, I watched the State of the Union more intently than I ever have — and I was surprised to find myself choked up a couple of times during the course of the speech. It wasn’t the President’s words that moved me, but the stories of the heroic individuals he spotlighted again and again, reminding me that despite all of our division, there is much greatness among the people of the United States.

I never doubted that, but it was powerful to see it on display and spotlighted by the President, who commands the attention of the world. Perhaps other nations weren’t paying much attention to our little yearly tradition, but Americans were — and if they weren’t watching they caught the highlights on the news. And the highlights were what really mattered…

Seeing the police officer and his wife who adopted the baby of a heroin addicted mother brought tears to my eyes, as I recognized the sacrifice and strength it took that mother to give her baby a better life — and the beautiful event of adoption be represented on the national stage. Both the baby’s mother and the adoptive couple are heroes for what they did.

The story of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho was the most moving of the night, as he raised his crutches in victory over his escape from North Korea. After barely surviving childhood — being run over by a train and suffering multiple amputations — he was tortured by North Korean authorities and traveled on crutches thousands of miles to China to find freedom. He now helps others find that same freedom, but his story is a reminder of the horrific state of the North Korean regime and the real enslavement of those still living there.

There were others including, = Cpl. Matthew Bradford, the first blind double amputee to re-enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps — and Preston Sharp, a little boy who wanted to honor every single American veteran with a flag or flower on their grave.

It was also encouraging to hear about thriving jobs numbers, economic success nationwide and Trump’s hopeful mention of fighting the opioid crisis, pushing Right to Try legislation for dying patients and more. There were things I didn’t like, such as the focus on an illegal immigrant gang — MS-13 — which seemed to try to paint illegal immigrants are murderers. At a time when the immigration debate is raging, I don’t think that was a good approach although of course I know this group needs to be eliminated.

That being said, I was surprised to hear commenters say after the speech that this just playing to Trump’s base. As a non-Trump voting conservative with frequent criticism, I don’t consider myself a normal part of the “base” and yet, I found the speech to be good overall.

I was dismayed to see a group of Democrats refuse to stand or acknowledge the President of the United States and it was almost comical watching them sit stony-faced as fantastic jobs and economic numbers for American citizens were raised. No matter how we got them, can’t you be happy that Americans are doing well? The snub seemed juvenile and below them.

Many will say that “juvenile” tone is the way of Trump. I’m the first to agree he can be that way, but why would you want to lower yourself to that level? Though I think many Democrats have completely forgotten Michelle Obama’s famous line, “They go low, we go high” — it’s worth repeating now. It goes for both sides of the aisle and should be ingrained in our brains — always the best way to approach these kinds of situations. Michelle and I may not agree on much, but that was a brilliant line.

Here’s the thing — just because you don’t like the President doesn’t mean you can’t be happy for policies that are working. It doesn’t mean progress on issues you care about can’t be made. Don’t discount the next three years because you’re bitter you’re candidate didn’t win. Be upset and make your points but move on and try to be productive. Clap when there’s a win for the American people. Stop letting your hatred for the President stomp on any potential joy or success.

I won’t stop criticizing Trump, but you can darn well bet I will applaud when good things happen. And that should be the case for everyone, no matter who is President.