News & Politics

AOC, Maxine Waters to Boycott Trump's State of the Union Amid Impeachment

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., addresses The Road to the Green New Deal Tour final event at Howard University in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

At least some Democrats are consistent. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) have pledged not to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. While this is little more than virtue-signaling, these Democrats are putting their votes to impeach Trump into action. After House Democrats claimed Trump was an imminent threat to the 2020 election who needed to be removed from office ASAP, it seems odd that they would attend the State of the Union.

“After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Naturally, AOC used the opportunity to grab more attention, this time on Instagram live: “This is a deeply personal decision for each member to make, and a choice I did not take lightly. I will be hopping on Instagram Live later this evening to connect with my constituents and follow up with their questions about [SOTU].”

Waters, one of the first Democrats to call for Trump’s impeachment — and who notoriously declared that “There is no law” on impeachment — also announced she would skip out on Trump’s speech.

“To think that I would attend the [SOTU] to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!” Waters tweeted.

Waters did not boycott former President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union address in 1999, even though Clinton had also been impeached. She did skip out on Trump’s other State of the Union addresses.

Pressley slammed Trump’s speech as a “sham.”

“The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham [SOTU],” she tweeted.

While AOC and Pressley attended the State of the Union last year, other Democrats joined Waters in skipping out of the annual address earlier in Trump’s presidency.

As The Hill reported, Reps. Al Green (D-Texas), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) will also boycott Trump’s speech. It will be the third year that Blumenauer, Cohen, and Wilson have not attended the speech.

Much as the decision to boycott the speech seems petty, it makes more sense than continuing with business as usual while claiming Trump is an existential threat to the Constitution, which appears to be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy. The case for impeachment is extremely weak and partisan, and the Senate is almost certain to acquit Trump, but Democrats must keep up the charade — at least AOC is consistent.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.