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EDITORIAL: Democrats should have embraced much of Trump’s agenda

Democrats reacted disdainfully to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday, with up eye rolls, muttering and facial contortions. But if they closed their eyes, listened and imagined somebody else were standing at the podium, they would have found plenty to like.

■ Mr. Trump highlighted the successful passage of a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, something Democrats had sought to pass for years but could never accomplish.

■ The president paid tribute to the growing number of women in Congress and announced the “first-ever government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.”

■ Mr. Trump referenced his tariffs on China and his efforts to renegotiate NAFTA to better favor U.S. workers. These are populist economic positions long favored by many liberal Democrats.

■ The president expressed a willingness to reach across the aisle on an infrastructure bill that he called “a necessity.”

■ Mr. Trump vowed to use government intervention to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to ensure that patients with pre-existing conditions don’t lose their health insurance. Both objectives should be music to progressive ears.

■ The president proposed spending more tax dollars to attack the HIV virus in an effort to “defeat AIDS in America and beyond.”

■ Mr. Trump indicated his intention to end what many Democrats have long called America’s “military adventurism” by curtailing the country’s foreign interventions. “Great nations,” he said, “do not fight endless wars.”

Yes, the president made his case for the border wall and attacked third-trimester abortions. But, for the most part, his speech highlighted a number of different issues on which he is in agreement with his political adversaries.

Whether Democrats seize the opportunity, however, is doubtful. So committed are they to opposing everything Trump that they view any opportunity for cooperation as a capitulation that undermines their ultimate goal of removing the president from office.

“We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them,” Mr. Trump said.

The president has much to be proud of during his two years in office. The economy is greatly improved thanks to Mr. Trump’s tax and regulatory agenda. Unemployment is at record lows, particularly for African-American and Hispanic workers. Growth is exceeding 3 percent, something we were told during the Obama era was no longer possible.

Mr. Trump identified myriad avenues for bipartisanship. We’ll find out if Democrats are interested. The state of the nation isn’t too bad right now. The state of the nation’s politics? Well, that’s another story.

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