You might've noticed something peculiar at the 2018 State of the Union: Democrats weren't clapping for Donald Trump. Now, you're probably wondering why the Democrats didn't clap at the State of the Union. Well, the answer is pretty simple: Democrats don't clap for Republican presidents and Republicans don't clap for Democratic presidents.
As President Trump talked about the issues plaguing our country during his State of the Union address, many clapped in encouragement and support of his optimism to build a better country — with the exception of Democrats. But if you thought they were sitting stone-faced because of their distaste for President Trump while Republicans gave him enthusiastic standing ovations, it has nothing to do with that. (Well, it may for some, but that's more personal than the actual reason.) The truth is: it's a tradition. According to Town Hall, lawmakers usually avoid clapping when an issue they oppose is mentioned during every State of the Union, regardless of who's president. In fact, the only time an opposing side ever claps is if there's a bipartisan issue addressed in the speech. Some examples could include the opioid crisis, unemployment, and Trump's infrastructure plan.
Even still, clapping is not a requirement. For an example, many Democrats refused to stand or clap when the president mentioned decreases in unemployment rates for black Americans — specifically members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
And Twitter users slammed them for doing so.
@FiveRights said Democrats acted "like sheep," during the address.
"THINK ABOUT THIS: The Congressional Black Caucus refused to clap when @realDonaldTrump declared that African-American unemployment is the lowest in history. They do not care about minority’s like they claim," Ben Ferguson tweeted.
Another user called Democrats' refusal to stand "pathetic."
But since the decision to clap or not is up to the parties' discretion, can anyone really be upset?
Besides, the act of clapping is even a tradition within itself. According to New York magazine, the State of the Union address has been given in person since 1913 during Woodrow Wilson's presidency. In 1947, during Harry S. Truman's presidency, the speech premiered on television for the first time, and has been a prime-time event since Lyndon Johnson's State of the Union address in 1966. According to the publication, clapping became more and more popularized with each passing year and additional publicity that came from being on television. That said, it seems more like a preference than a requirement.
During tonight's address, President Trump addressed multiple topics including his plans to introduce more FDA approved prescription drugs and lower their prices, follow through with a path for citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, decrease gang violence, provide huge tax cuts, defeat ISIS, end a "war on coal," and so on.
But one of the biggest highlights of the address was one of Trump's comments on bridging gaps between American citizens, and political parties. He said,
Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family. So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.
Though I'm not too sure on whether or not Democrats clapped or stood for Trump after hearing this quote, they can't deny that it was a new kind of gesture for the president.
So even if you noticed Democrats weren’t clapping during Trump’s State of the Union address, don’t fret. It’s just a tradition. Besides, the president did enough of his own clapping tonight that makes up for everyone.