The Democrats Have No Claps For Trump

by Chris Tognotti

It's a custom of partisan politics whenever an address to a joint session of Congress rolls around, and President Donald Trump's first go-around is no different: so far, the Democrats aren't applauding Trump's speech, with a couple of notable exceptions. This isn't much of a surprise, as former president Barack Obama was met with similarly frosty receptions throughout his many addresses to Congress ― when you're a member of an opposition party, facing a president who's reviled among your own base, even a short clip of you applauding for a specific policy can be cast in a damaging light.

That's not to say there hasn't been a single clap on the part of a Democratic politician so far, however. Specifically, according to BuzzFeed's Alexis Levinson, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin was the sole Democrat to rise to his feet and applaud Trump's "make America great again" line. If you were taking bets on which Democrat would give Trump the warmest reception, Manchin would've been the safe bet ― he's regularly among the most conservative Democrats, and for a time was rumored as a potential Trump cabinet pick. Such is the nature of being an elected Democrat in typically conservative West Virginia.

Also, Vermont senator and progressive icon Bernie Sanders reportedly applauded one portion of Trump's speech ― Trump's nod to protectionist trade policies, one of the few areas where the self-avowed socialist finds some common ground with the president.

But those sorts of moments were few and far between, to say the least. Rather, the vast majority of the reaction was divided along those familiar, sharply partisan lines. It's nothing new, but against the backdrop of the Trump administration, it definitely stands out.

For wnat it's worth, despite the decidedly frosty reception Trump received from the Democrats, there were no overt, unique shows of disrespect ― no Joe Wilson moments, in other words, like what befell President Obama in one of his State of the Union addresses. And considering how inflammatory, combative, and loose with the facts Trump tends to be (the fact-checkers are already shredding many of his assertions), it's fair to say that a similar accusation could've been accurately lobbed at him, if anyone had been so bold. But to the contrary, the Democrats maintained the traditional balance between decorum and hostility: they didn't yell, sure, but sure weren't going to clap, either.