Any member of Congress boycotting any SOTU for any reason has my support. If enough of them start staying home, some president might finally be persuaded to cancel this tedious, obnoxious, unwatchable spectacle.
Although in light of what’s happening in the Senate right now and Trump’s habit of going off-script, tonight’s spectacle might be a little less tedious and unwatchable than most, no?
Realistically the worst that might happen over time is that attendance at the SOTU becomes a partisan affair. Most of the out-party will stay home in protest of whoever’s in charge while all of the president’s party will show up and seal-clap throughout. Everything else in American politics is poisoned by partisanship. Eventually, as the parties sink further into total war and an endless spiral of recriminations, this will be too.
Ocasio-Cortez is ahead of the curve:
This is a deeply personal decision for each member to make, and a choice I did not take lightly.
I will be hopping on Instagram Live later this evening to connect with my constituents and follow up with their questions about #SOTU.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2020
That’s her all over inasmuch as she’s setting up a purity test for the rest of her caucus by doing this. “Sure, other Dems say they object to Trump. But they don’t object so much that they’d refuse to show up and listen to him for an hour. If only they had AOC’s courage.”
She’s not the only member of the “Squad” going this route. Ayanna Pressley issued this shortly before Ocasio-Cortez:
“The occupant of the White House incessantly stokes fear in people of color, women, healthcare providers, LGBTQ+ communities, low-income families, and many more. He does not embody the principles, the responsibility, the grace, nor the integrity that is required of the President of the United States.
“The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress, and contempt for our constitution – strong-arming a sham impeachment trial in the Senate. This presidency is not legitimate.
“On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent.”
It’s noteworthy that both Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez are prominent supporters of, and surrogates for, the two top progressive Democrats in the presidential race, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, respectively. I believe Warren and Sanders are both campaigning in New Hampshire this evening. Maybe Pressley and AOC were deputized to extend a rhetorical middle finger to Trump just to add a little extra polish to their candidates’ progressive cred in New Hampshire.
Although how much more cred could Bernie possibly need?
Either way, it turns out this is *not* a coordinated “Squad” effort:
I am attending tonight’s address not to confer any legitimacy on his actions, his statements, or his presidency.
I am attending on behalf of all of those targeted by this President to say, ‘We are greater than hate.’
My presence tonight is resistance.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 4, 2020
Funnily enough, Ocasio-Cortez came up at today’s traditional off-the-record lunch between Trump and the anchors from various news networks. Two on-the-record comments were made and she was the subject of one. You can watch Bret Baier reveal that below. Interestingly, CNN wasn’t invited to the lunch even though they have been in years past and even though normally the networks show solidarity by refusing to participate in a government event from which one of their colleagues has been singled out and excluded. That didn’t happen today; other anchors, including Baier, attended the lunch. How come? Did they not know about the snub in advance or do they agree that CNN has crossed some sort of line in its anti-Trump advocacy?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 4, 2020