The president and the state of this union

February 5th was a big day for the nation, NDB included. As President Trump gave his second State of the Union speech, followed by Stacy Abrams with the Democratic response, all history classes were in the virtual audience, assigned to watch and take notes.

Social Sciences and English teacher Rebecca Fisher assigned her AP Government and Politics class a bingo chart and asked her students to tally how many times certain moments occurred or topics were covered.

Both speeches heavily touched on the need for unity, but many argue that this was a weak talking point as the government only came out of the longest shutdown in U.S. history less than two weeks before the address. Both sides discussed their commitment to uniting America as one nation, rather than two parties and advocated for reforming healthcare and immigration; helping the middle class and veterans; as well as other issues.

Essentially, both parties put forward similar fronts in terms of priorities, but as we have seen through the increasing polarized rhetoric in our nation, the extent of gridlock in Congress, and conflict between the executive and legislative branches that just resulted in the longest government shutdown in history, little is actually getting done.

On both sides of the political aisle, leaders are blaming the opposing party for generating divisiveness, while ignoring the simple reality that you cannot build bridges with pointed fingers. While each party is dedicated to a devoted stance on their values, at the end of the day, both the Republican and Democratic party are showing severe signs of the impact of internal splintering: values that cease to hold any weight.

However, polarization in Washington is a symptom of our divided nation and world, rather than a cause of it. The advent of the internet — and with it, online news and social media — has allowed people to isolate themselves within their beliefs and views more so than at any other time in history. And, while States of the Union should be a call to action by the executive branch, it seems to only be fueling the fire of political divisiveness.