By Rina Haimson
SILVER SPRING, Md.– On Feb. 4, President Donald Trump gave the State of the Union address to the American people. This speech was especially controversial this year, and the Democratic response has been largely unified in its criticism.
Traditionally, the State of the Union address is a way for the president to set their plans for the coming year, and run down what has been accomplished the past year. 2020’s address was no different, but the accomplishments it celebrated were contested by many Democratic leaders.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from Michigan was chosen to present the Democratic response shortly the State of the Union was given. This occurs after every State of the Union, where the opposition party prepares a response.
One of the main points she mentioned was health care, saying that “Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.” Health care was a topic that Trump talked about extensively in his speech, claiming that he was the one who was going to help give people health care.
Whitmer also argued that the Senate Republicans were impeding the processes to introduce important legislation, saying “Congressional Democrats have presented proposals to keep us moving forward, but President Trump and the Republicans in the Senate are blocking the path.”
This presents a picture of Senate Republicans– and President Trump– as trying to sabotage the Congressional Democrats, a sentiment often repeated by frustrated Democrats.
An interesting element of Whitmer’s speech was its focus on what the Democratic leaders had accomplished. As opposed to a main focus on President Trump, she drew the focus to Democrats meeting goals.
In fact, at the beginning of her speech, Whitmer made a point of saying that she would “ need a lot more than 10 minutes to respond to what the president just said,” and that “instead of talking about what he is saying, [she was] going to highlight what Democrats are doing.” These highlights from Democratic politicians included stories of legislation pushed through Congress, and smaller victories in individual states.
Representative Veronica Escobar also gave a speech in Spanish, in order to reach more people. Her speech echoed Governor Whitmer’s, while including examples of her personal experiences.
Both women touched on President Trump’s impeachment and acquittal, with Rep. Escobar stating that “[w]e Democrats will continue to fight for truth and for what is right. No one is above the law.”
The Democratic response to the 2020 State of the Union highlights the conflict among Democratic and Republican politicians, and the Democrats efforts to combat President Trump’s claims and actions.