There are two weeks to go until President Trump’s State of the Union address, but it appears that attendance will be down, with several top Democrats planning to boycott the event. Five Democrat representatives have stated that they won’t be attending the event, citing accusations of racism and dishonesty, while others plan to follow Hollywood’s example and go dressed in black, in solidarity with women whom Trump has allegedly victimized.
As a testament to the bitter divisions in American government today, this won’t be the first time that Democrats have boycotted a Trump appearance, with over 60 skipping the inauguration and several refusing to attend his initial address to Congress last February. California representative Maxine Waters is set to become a serial boycotter, as she has yet to visit any of Trump’s events, a streak she intends to continue with her announcement that she won’t be present for the State of the Union address.
The speech, scheduled for January 30, should provide a summary of the Trump administration’s first year in office, along with a vision for 2018. The Democrats would do well to take this opportunity to lay out their own clear vision for the future, particularly with mid-term elections coming up this year, but so far it looks as if they are less concerned with creating a positive policy for the future than rehashing their opposition to the present administration.
Four Democrats have joined Maxine Waters in refusing to be in the same room as President Trump, including John Lewis (GA.), Frederica Wilson (FL), Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Pramila Jayapal (WA).
Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson is the latest to announce that she won’t be attending Trump’s State of the Union address, a decision prompted by “recent racist and incendiary remarks about Haiti and African nations,” referencing the president’s alleged sh**hole remarks. She continued that Trump’s policies are “harmful to people of color, low-income communities, and the middle class.”
Wilson, who recently introduced a resolution to extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitians and feuded with Trump last year about his language during a military widow condolence phone call, added in a statement:
“For the first time since I began serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will not be attending the president’s State of the Union address. I have no doubts that instead of delivering a message of inclusivity and an agenda that benefits all Americans, President Trump’s address will be full of innuendo, empty promises and lies…”
Wilson doesn’t mention that she was elected during Obama’s term in 2010, meaning that this year’s the State of the Union address was the first one likely to challenge her politics, as well as the first she is refusing to attend. She wasn’t the only one to call Trump dishonest, however, with Maxine Waters simply asking, “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?” A reasonable question, if she would spend less time denouncing Trump in the media and more time actually working on policy creation.
Meanwhile, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who recently introduced the bill to enable a Trump impeachment via the 25th amendment, tweeted that he would give the event a miss to spend time working directly with his constituents in Oregon. By skipping Trump’s speech he is failing to represent pro-MAGA Oregonians, but at least his statement was more proactive: “I’ll be working at home listening to Oregonians about what they think about the State of the Union!”
FIT TO BE A GOVERNMENT IN WAITING?
One of the functions of an opposition political party is to provide an alternative policy platform to the current government, but this is a role that the Democrats appear to have abandoned, instead focusing almost exclusively on criticizing Trump personally. The opposition party is a “government in waiting,” and as such, should be able to take up the reigns at any point, but is today’s Democrat party a serious contender? It would lend them more credibility if they put more effort into promoting the policies they are in favor of, rather than endlessly expounding on those they oppose.
After all, the President, despite holding a high office, is only one man. A man with restricted lawmaking abilities, as 2017’s many executive order blocks have illustrated – indeed, the State of the Union address is the only time he’s even allowed to enter the legislative building. So why spend so much time reinforcing opposition to just one man, who will at most be in office for eight years, when you could be formulating and promoting your policies to bring about your vision for a great America?