• Rick Laib

SOTU 2020: Response v. React

The difference can sometimes be tricky, but I can help: To respond is typically positive.  To react is typically not.


This is not to say that reacting to an event is negative, not at all!  But I can assure you if something bad happened at your home, and you needed help fast, you would want First Responders to come.  Reacting to an event just doesn't have the same laudable or constructive merit.

Let's look at the State of the Union speech.  The 2020 speech closed in just under 90 minutes, but this is how President Trump opened:

Jobs are booming.

Incomes are soaring.

Poverty is plummeting. 

Crime is falling. 

Confidence is surging.

And our country is thriving and 

Highly respected again. 

Response: Wasn't that beautiful?!!

You see what I did there?  Positive response.  Let's try another:

Honoring Retired U.S. Air Force and Tuskegee Airman Col. Charles McGee, the surprise reuniting of SFC Townsend Williams with his wife and children, and the explanation of "Operation Kayla."

Response: Enthusiastic and long-lasting applause.

And why not?  Who makes a sacrifice equal to the members of our nation's military?  It should be no surprise that they're so often attacked as their influence in our culture is unmatched and the service they provide is unimaginable to most.  It was fitting that they received the most enthusiastic and longest applauses of the night.  God bless our nation's military.  You can't but respond positively.


But what about this hypothetical exchange: 

Random Person: You would like anything Trump says.

Me: Not entirely true.  I would have preferred he proposed a ban on all abortions, not just late-term abortions.  But this wasn't a night of policy, and I'm still hopeful he'll broaden his conviction in this area.

Response: Peaceful area of departure.  

With so much to applaud from this speech, I don't see the need to focus on the things I didn't harmonize with.  Maybe we'll get those things on the next swing.  For now, I was grateful to hear the economic report, his desire that more people get jobs and off of welfare, the push for school choice, the push for vocational training in high schools, defense of religious liberty, defense of the 2nd Amendment, and I'll stay hopeful that the President grows in his view on the sanctity of human life.  And then there was that closing...

The best is yet to come.

React: Speaker of the House tears up speech.

Unhelpful and unproductive, Madam Speaker.  The nation rolls its eyes.   

The non-Presidental party typically has a response and last night was no exception.  To be fair, the scheduled Democrats' response was neither a response nor a reaction.  This should alert you.  I don't solely place the blame on Michigan Governor Grechen Whitmer as I'm certain she had help crafting her 10 minutes.  But for it to be considered a response or a reaction, her comments would have needed, on some level or in some way, to correspond to the President's speech.  And they did not.  She acknowledged she would rather "focus" on the activism of others and then tied in common public-crippling themes.  Her "response," I suppose, was avoidance.  This often is how the left responds.  They often are not equipped to do otherwise.

Of this I'm positive. 

Rick Laib is a Republican candidate for the 11th Congressional District in Illinois. He can be reached at

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