Boycott alert: Angry VA lawmakers to skip Trump's Jamestown speech

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, before boarding Marine One helicopter, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

On July 21, I wrote about Virginia Democrat lawmakers calling for a boycott of President Trump’s speech today marking the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in the Western Hemisphere. At the time I wrote the piece, President Trump had not formally accepted the invitation to commemorate the date with a speech, but a Richmond newspaper reported he would attend.

Today’s the day. The president is attending the event and will deliver a speech. Angry African-American lawmakers in Virginia made the decision to boycott President Trump’s speech because of recent comments that have been construed to be racial attacks on people of color.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, which represents members of the House of Delegates and State Senate, said in a statement that its members cannot “in good conscience sit silently” as a president who has promoted racial divisions is given such a prominent platform. Mr. Trump is due to fly to Virginia and speak at the Jamestown Settlement Museum at 11:15 a.m.

“It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the president represents,” the caucus said in its statement. The statement added that Mr. Trump’s “repeated attacks on black legislators and comments about black communities” make him “ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history, especially if this nation is to move forward with the ideals of ‘democracy, inclusion, and opportunity.’”

One black lawmaker will be in attendance, though. Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax, the only African-American elected to a statewide office, will be there.

But Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax, Virginia’s only African-American statewide elected official, will attend Tuesday’s ceremony, saying the twin anniversaries “far supersede the petty and racist actions of the current occupant of the White House.”

In an essay posted on Medium, he said, “The bigoted words of the current president will thankfully soon be swept into the dustbin of history. Our democracy, born in Virginia, will live on.”

It should be noted that Lt. Gov. Fairfax is still in office despite the allegations and legal action taken against him for past behavior towards women. He’s a Democrat, you know, so standard procedure is for everyone to act like nothing is wrong and carry on. The same happened when Governor Northam’s photos from his college days emerged. He is shown in blackface make-up at a frat party. Rather than risk Republican control of the state, Virginia Democrats turned a blind eye and both men are still in office. Just move along, there is nothing to see here.

The complaints are based on tweets sent out from President Trump about members of the Squad – the four female freshmen in the House – and the ones about Baltimore have been added to the mix. Nothing that President Trump said about Baltimore has been proven to be incorrect, and no one clutched their pearls when Bernie Sanders made similar remarks in 2015 but that was then and this is now. America’s first black president, who was in office when Sanders made his remarks after a walking tour of Baltimore, sure didn’t do anything of significance to improve the living conditions in the city.

President Trump will deliver a good speech, I am certain of that. He always rises to the occasion, despite the slings and arrows of his critics. His Twitter feed is different than the words of his real-life appearance, as is common in social media. He is less polished on Twitter. Who among us isn’t, though? I try for civility every day in my own tweets (@penguinponders) but it doesn’t always work out that way.

It is the job of elected officials to show up. It doesn’t matter if they agree with the president or not. It’s their job to represent all the residents of their city or state. If they can’t show up for the President of the United States as he commemorates the beginnings of our representative government, they don’t deserve the office that they hold.