Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union address on January 30, but at least four Democrats have publicly announced that they’ll be boycotting the speech, Fox News is reporting.
House Democrats Maxine Waters (California) and John Lewis (Georgia) will be joined by Frederica Wilson (Florida) and Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) in skipping the speech. Waters, Blumenauer, and Lewis also boycotted Trump’s inauguration back in January, 2017.
Waters doesn’t mince words when describing why she’s skipping the address.
“Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?… He doesn’t deserve my attention. The United States of America is being represented by the most despicable human being that could possibly ever walk the earth…. Not only is he racist, he is an embarrassment for this country.”
Lewis, for his part, was slightly more circumspect in his choice of words, made available via The Hill.
“I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it. I wouldn’t be honest with myself.”
Blumenauer promised a repeat of his inauguration activities.
“I will be working here at home listening to Oregonians about what they think about the State of the Union.”
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) January 13, 2018
Other House Democrats are planning other, more subtle forms of protest. As the Hill reported last week, some members of the Democratic Working Women’s Group, led by Nancy Pelosi (California), have been brainstorming ways to make a point about Trump during the State of the Union speech, without going so far as boycotting. Pelosi, for her part, plans to take a cue from the Golden Globes and wear all black, as a sign of solidarity with victims of sexual abuse. Others have suggested wearing white, the color of suffragettes during the push to grant women the right to vote, but appear to have settled on wearing black instead.
Lois Frankel (Florida) plans to invite a victim of sexual assault to be her guest to the speech, although she hasn’t said whom. Other Democrats have invited, as their guests, people who have been negatively affected by Trump’s words and/or his policies, such as Dreamers facing deportation.
This would not be the first time that a president’s State of the Union address was the scene of protests. As Huffington Post reported at the time, Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union speech was the scene of a protest by Texas Republican Steve Stockman. Stockman, a longtime critic of Obama, walked out of the Capitol Building during the speech. Previously, Stockman had invited, as his guests, Obama critic Ted Nugent and, the year before, media prankster Chad Henderson.
The Constitution requires that the president address Congress on the State of the Union “from time to time.” The address is now held annually by tradition.