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All the women who challenged Trump’s State of the Union speech

Posted by
Jessica Rapana
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From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez boycotting the annual address to Nancy Pelosi’s ultimate power move – here are all the ways women stood up to Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. 

So when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided to boycott Donald Trump’s State of the Union address this year, it spoke volumes.

“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,” Ocasio-Cortez – universally known by her initials: AOC – wrote on Twitter beforehand.

“None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it,” she said. “Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”

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Delivered annually to Congress, the State of the Union is designed to be a manifesto of sorts for the sitting president. It also gives them a chance to tout their perceived achievements over the last year of governance.

This year, however, many Democrats, like Ocasio-Cortez, used the opportunity to make their feelings about the current administration very clear by rallying against Trump’s address, which touted a strong economy and yet completely ignored his impeachment trial.

Meanwhile, at least eight other Democrats also boycotted the event this year, including Ayanna Pressley and Maxine Waters.

Pressley tweeted: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrated contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s shame #SOTU.”

Of those Democrat women who did attend, many donned all-white in protest against Trump and to honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. 

This decision to wear all-white, which was also done last year during the 2019 address, as well as in 2017 during a presidential address to Congress, is an homage to the white outfits often worn by suffragists during their fight to get women’s votes recognised.

Many Democrats walked out of the chamber during the address, including Rashida Tlaib, who is part of the batch of new Congresswomen nicknamed The Squad.

Later, she tweeted: “The lies, the bigotry, and the shameless bragging about taking away food stamps that people depend on to live – it was all beneath the dignity of the office he occupies. Shame on this forever impeached president.”

However, perhaps the biggest power move came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, after Trump’s address, ripped up her copy of his speech and tossed the pages behind his back.

After the address, she told reporters: “It was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives”.

This wasn’t her only jibe. Ordinarily the speaker would declare: “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.” However, this year Pelosi simply said: “Members of Congress, the president of the Unites States.”

That’s what happens when men (or rather, one man) don’t listen to women – we learn how to speak with more than just our voices.

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Image: Getty (edited)

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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