On Monday morning, Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson kicked off State of the Union eve by explaining why she would no longer attend the affair.
‘I’m not going because to do would be to honor the president, and I don’t think he deserves to be honored at this time,’ the Florida Democrat said on CNN. ‘After being so hateful toward black people and then black countries, Haiti and the whole continent of Africa, it hurts, it hurts, and he has brought the White House to the lowest, and I don’t think he needs to be honored with my presence,’ she went on.
Wilson is not alone in making tomorrow night’s State of the Union speech, Trump’s first, into a political point.
Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat from Florida, started off State of the Union week by explaining on CNN why she wouldn’t be going. Wilson is not alone
Earlier this months, on the heels of reports that said Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and the whole of Africa as ‘s***hole’ countries, during a closed-door immigration meeting, Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights pioneer, announced that he would not go.
‘In good conscience, I can not and will not sit there and listen at him as he gives the State of the Union Address,’ Lewis said then.
That’s when Wilson originally announced she would sit out, as did Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters, of California, and Pramila Jayapal, of Washington state.
On Friday, they were joined by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, who said in a statement she was boycotting the address ‘because I refuse to normalize President Donald Trump and his loathsome language and actions.’
‘With every day that passes, a new tweet, breaking news story, or leaked quote sheds new light on President Trump’s twisted and prejudiced mind,’ she added.
The congresswoman took particular offense to his ‘s***hole countries’ comment, his reaction to the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer, in which he said there were good people on ‘both sides’ of a clash between neo-Nazis, KKK members and white supremacists and counter-protesters, and for the roll-out of his ‘Muslim ban’ last year, which Schakowsky pointed out happened on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On Sunday, Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York, told MSNBC he would not be there. ‘
‘I cannot give this man, who does not respect me, the respect to be in that audience,’ Meeks said. ‘I will not be there.’
Meeks was joined by two other black House members, both from Illinois, on Monday as Reps Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, announced they would not attend.
Rush called Trump’s first year in office ‘the most chaotic, divisive, and incompetent’ and said he would not ‘watch as Trump pretends that he’s off to a successful start.’
‘He’s not,’ Rush said in a statement put out by his office.
Late Monday, Rep. Juan Vargas, a Democrat from California, indicated that he would not attend.
‘President Trump continues to disrespect women, insult people of color, and attack our immigrant communities. I will not be attending the State of the Union—I stand in solidarity with all the people he has and continues to disrespect,’ the congressman tweeted.
While a majority of Democratic members boycotting were minorities, the first lawmaker to announce he would be playing hooky was a white guy, Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon.
Blumenauer later said he would be sending in his stead, a ‘dreamer’ to the speech, as Congress continues to debate what happens next with DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era order that allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal status.
Trump has since announced he was scrapping the program and tossed the problem to Congress.
Other Democrats, too, are using their guests as mini-protests.
Rep. Joe Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat whose great-uncle was the late President John F. Kennedy, is bringing a transgender soldier – Staff Sgt. Patricia King – to the State of the Union, to protest the president’s proposed transgender troops ban.
The congressman’s guest was first reported in the Boston Globe.
Kennedy will also be giving the Democrats’ official rebuttal after Trump leaves the dais.
Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen, a Nevada Democrat, is bringing well-known ‘Dreamer’ Astrid Silva as his guest.