A Few Things to Listen for Tonight

A Few Things to Listen for Tonight

Official Washington is bracing today for President Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress. It’s scheduled 9 tonight.

Trump's first speech to Congress set for 9 pm EST

Official Washington is bracing today for President Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress. It’s scheduled 9 tonight.

To prep the President’s friends in Congress, who the administration expects will deliver glowing reviews, the White House has distributed a set of “talking points.” Politico, which passed the list along this morning, reports that the speech will be heavy on claims that Trump is delivering on his campaign promises by beefing up military spending, tightening immigration enforcement, cutting regulations that Trump believes constrain economic growth and reforming the tax code.

Here are a few things not on the list that we’ll be listening, or wishing for:

  • Some sign that Trump has a plan to make good on promises that he’ll break the hold that major political donors have on our politics and policymaking. After lots of brave talk about “draining the swamp,” and claims that he knows how the system works and how to fix it, Trump has filled his Cabinet with billionaires who appear bent on giving more power to big money interests, maximizing corporate profits, and tearing down agencies created to protect our air and water.
  • An acknowledgement that Russian attempts to influence last year’s election are the political equivalent of the September 11 attacks and must be fully and fairly investigated by an independent commission or at the very least a bipartisan select committee of the Congress.
  • A full-throated defense of voting rights and a pledge to put additional federal resources into ensuring that every adult citizen has ready access to the ballot and that every ballot is counted as cast. While Trump’s talking points promise he’ll lift up “forgotten men and women,” his Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions appear bent on making sure that millions of Americans stay forgotten by making it harder for them to vote.
  • Some sign of presidential humility. Trump is a minority president, having lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million. Rather than continuing to peddle baseless claims that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, he’d do well to acknowledge that he’s President only because of the Electoral College and to offer an olive branch to his adversaries.
  • A basic understanding of the role of the press in American life. There’s nothing wrong with an adversarial relationship between journalists and government. But Trump’s talk of the media as “enemies of the American people” and his attempts to stifle critical reporting represent a dangerous threat to our democracy. As former President George W. Bush observed this week, an independent press is vital to holding powerful people and institutions accountable. ###