Caribbean American Democratic New York City Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams, has described as “deeply disturbing” the State of the Union address on Tuesday night by President Donald Trump.
On the eve of what is expected to be his acquittal of impeachment charges by the Republican-controlled US Senate, Trump delivered his third State of the Union address before both chambers of Congress.
He was impeached in the same chamber 50 days ago, on obstruction of justice and abuse of power charges, by the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives.
“It was deeply disturbing to see Donald Trump employ tokenism and tribalism alike (last night), pretending to stand with communities of more colour in order to disguise the bigotry of his policies, conduct and history,” Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) shortly after Trump ended his address.
“Surreal to hear about ‘criminal justice reform’ from the same man who condemned five young black teenagers (in New York) to death – formerly the Central Park Five, now known as the Exonerated Five; the man who to this day refuses to admit their innocence,” Williams said, adding “as we have seen in recent months, however, innocence is not a concept this president understands.
“Nothing the President said in the State of the Union address, no promise he made or lie he told, can obscure or erase that he has been impeached for betraying the people he was sworn to serve and the Constitution he pledged to uphold.
“The state of our federal government is such that he may get away with this shameful behaviour in the Senate, but the people still have the power to hold him accountable.
“There will still be those who support his oppressive and dangerous rule, but I will always be proud to be part of the people pushing back, working to ensure this year’s State of the Union address was Donald Trump’s last,” Williams said.
In his 78-minute address, Trump credited his administration for what he described as a “great American comeback,” lauding a robust economy and comparing what he characterized as his record of success with those of his predecessors.
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline, and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. “We have totally rejected the downsizing.
“We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never, ever going back. The state of our union is stronger than ever before,” Trump added.
But the Democratic Party, in its official response, assailed Trump’s claim on the economy.
“It doesn’t matter what the President says about the stock market,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke on behalf of the party. “What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans or prescription drugs.”
Several female Democratic legislators wore white symbolizing women’s right, including the right to vote.
Some also boycotted the speech, including New York freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Massachusetts counterpart Ayanna S. Pressley.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California tore up a copy of Trump’s speech after he delivered it, writing shortly afterwards on Twitter: “Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done #ForThePeople,” she wrote, using the party’s campaign slogan.
“We will work to find common ground where we can, but will stand our ground where we cannot,” she added.
Trump had turned his back before he began his speech, when Pelosi extended her hand for a handshake, after giving her a copy of the address.