If you watched President Donald Trump deliver his State of the Union on Tuesday, Feb. 5, you might have noticed that half the room was a little quiet during his speech. While Republicans clapped for most of the president's address, Democrats weren't clapping at the 2019 State of the Union. The reason for it is actually pretty simple, too. Republicans never clap for Democratic presidents and Democrats never clap for Republican presidents. It's kind of tradition.
When you don't agree with something, you probably won't clap for it, and according to Town Hall, that's pretty standard practice for opposing party lawmakers during the president's State of the Union. However, the publication also notes that while opposing sides will remain seated and silent on issues they oppose, they sometimes will give a nod, stand, or give a "golf clap" when the president mentions bipartisan issues like supporting the troops or fighting the opioid crisis.
But more often that not during the 2019 speech, it appeared that Democrats were content to stay silent and not give their applause.
Notably, some Democrats even appeared not to clap at all, or take their sweet time in standing when the president arrived in the chamber.
During the 2018 State of the Union, many Democrats chose to remain seated and not clap for any of Trump's address, but one particular moment caught some attention and air time. At one point in Trump's speech, he said, "African American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded." According to the Los Angeles Times, that was actually a true statement. The rate dropped to 6.8 percent in December 2017, which was the lowest it had been since the government began keeping track of it in 1972. Despite the validity of Trump's statement, many Democrats, primarily from the Congressional Black Caucus, chose to remain seated and not applaud, according to Town Hall.
Some people on Twitter took note and called it out.
The Democratic response to Trump's speech also prompted criticism from the president. About a week after his first State of the Union in January 2018, while speaking at the Sheffer factory in Cincinnati, Ohio, Trump called the Democrats who refused to applaud his State of the Union "treasonous," according to TIME. He told the crowd that he spoke about things like having the "lowest black unemployment rate in the history of our country," and the "lowest Hispanic unemployment rate as well," but there was still "dead silence." The towards the end of his speech, he called the lack of applause or affirmation "un-American." He said,
You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy wild, they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country, and you have the other side even on positive news, really positive news like that, they were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yeah, I guess, why not. Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.
While it might be nice to have some issues that cross party lines be applauded, it's probably harder to do if the one talking about them is on the opposing side.