Trump asked Democrats for bipartisan unity during his 2018 State of the Union address, but Dems made it clear with their responses that they were not willing to put aside a year of political gamesmanship and retracted campaign promises at Trump’s behest.
Eight rebuttals to the speech were televised, including the official Democratic Party speech given by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), a response from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and a speech entirely in Spanish by Virginia delegate Elizabeth Guzman.
Joe Kennedy’s speech impressed viewers, drawing comparisons to Barack Obama’s oratory style and vision of progress for the future. Kennedy’s rebuttal was delivered from a vocational school in Fall River, Massachusetts, one of the few towns in the deep blue state where Trump performed well in the 2016 election.
The congressman asserted that America needs to reject the false and divisive choices that Trump and Republicans have imposed on them.
“Coal miners or single moms. Rural communities or inner cities. The coast or the heartland,” Kennedy said. “Here is the answer Democrats offer tonight: We choose both. We fight for both. Because the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn’t leave anyone behind.”
Despite being a member of the storied Kennedy dynasty, Joe Kennedy has managed to advance a relatively progressive image, especially as he has spoken out in fierce opposition to Trump’s agenda over the last year.
Bernie Sanders’ message was less soaring than Kennedy’s, but more direct about the bitter realities for Americans struggling to stay optimistic under the Trump presidency. Despite a strong economy and good job numbers, Sanders pointed out that the average American worker has only seen wages increase by about 4 cents per hour. Meanwhile, the three richest people in America saw their wealth increase by over $68 billion, something Kennedy underscored in his remarks.
Under Trump, politicians are speaking out more forcefully than ever to battle regressions from decency in American civic life. Kennedy and Sanders’ speeches, along with many of the other lawmakers who joined them to respond on social media, exemplified the diverse styles being used to tackle our current political mess.
It will take a multi-pronged approach to counter the Trump administration’s chaos, but the Democrats showed they have what it takes to fight in 2018.