The annual State of the Union address counts typically as a time when both of the nation’s political parties come together in a joint session of the U.S. Congress to hear the president’s remarks on the how well — or how poorly — the country currently fares and what he proposes going forward.
But there’s little if anything typical about the state of America in 2020.
With Donald Trump only the second impeached president to give the address, and U.S. lawmakers still battling over what many viewed as a sham impeachment trial in the Senate, an uneasy tone dominated the address.
Even beforehand, several prominent Democratic lawmakers decided not to attend.
“To think that I would attend the State of the Union to hear the message of an impeached president is a thought that in no way would be consistent with my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) said in a statement. “I will certainly not be there,” she said.
Others echoed her sentiments.
“Because of an impeached, reckless, ruthless, lawless, shameless, corrupt and unapologetically bigoted president who’s still engaging in a coverup, the state of the House, the state of the Senate and the State of the Union are divided,” said Rep. Al Green (D-Texas).
“I will not attend the State of the Union,” Green said.
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) and Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) also declined to attend.
“After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct and subversion of the Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it.”
On the eve of Senate Republicans “covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent,” Pressley said in a statement.
The address, which he promised would be “low-key,” served as Trump’s third State of the Union.
He claimed responsibility for reviving America, making it great again.
“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,” Trump said. “We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago and we are never going back.”
Trump said his tax cuts, the new North American Free Trade Agreement and a partial trade agreement with China, should be viewed as keys to America’s success.
“To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American health care,” he said.
At one point during the address, Democrats shouted Trump down when he spoke of lowering prescription drug costs. They yelled “H.R. 3,” a bill that passed the House in 2019 that would reduce drug costs but has been stalled by Republicans in the Senate.
He also derided those who sanction sanctuary cities.
“The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans, not criminal aliens,” Trump said.