Published On: Wed, Jan 31st, 2018

Tonight’s State of the Union Boycott Might Be the Largest of its Kind

Tonight, Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address. As of now, 13 Democrats are planning to boycott. According to CNN, that’s the largest-ever boycott of its type. Previously, the largest number of lawmakers to ever skip the SOTU was 12, in 1971, when the entire Congressional Black Caucus did not attend after Richard Nixon reportedly refused a meeting with them.

But boycotts of the SOTU are rare. Here are the twelve lawmakers planning to make a statement with their absence tonight:

John Lewis

Lewis told MSNBC, “At this junction, I do not plan to attend the State of the Union.” After Trump’s reported “shithole countries” remarks regarding immigration from African nations as well as countries like El Salvador and Haiti, Lewis said, “I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it. I wouldn’t be honest with myself.”

Rep. Maxine Waters

Waters says Trump does not deserve her attention. “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?”

Rep. Frederica Wilson

Wilson also referenced Trump’s racist comments in explaining her reasons for boycotting.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Blumenauer will be sending Aldo Solano, a DACA recipient, in his place.

Many other lawmakers are bringing Dreamers as their guest to the event, prompting Arizona’s Rep. Paul Gosar to call for the arrest and deportation of any undocumented immigrants in attendance.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Rep. Bobby L. Rush

Rep. Pramila Jayapa

Rep. Danny K. Davis

Rep. Steve Cohen

Albio Sires

Re. Juan Vargas

Rep. Barbara Lee

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will also be skipping Trump’s speech. (Although the late Justice Antonin Scalia had not attended a SOTU address in nearly 20 years.)

Other lawmakers are choosing alternate forms of protest while still attending the event. Joe Kennedy will be bringing as his guest Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, a transgender soldier.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is bringing San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz.

Many female Democrats are choosing to bring survivors of sexual assault, including Chessy Prout (a guest of Rep. Anne McLane Kuster), the teenage victim of the Owen Labrie prep school rape case, as well as Rose Gunter (guest of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman), the niece of Recy Taylor.

Many others are choosing to simply wear black as a form of silent protest.

Some of these female lawmakers, along with a number of other activists including Ai-jen Poo, Tarana Burke, and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, will be hosting an alternate event, dubbed The State of OUR Union.

You can live stream that event at

(image: Shutterstock)

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