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February 5, 2019




Tuesday, February 5, 2019


A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Every year, with full pomp and circumstance, the President of the United States has the opportunity to define and interpret the State of the Union (SOTU).  But this is a President primarily known for lying, not for giving accurate, challenging or uplifting speeches. His leading idea was a threat: if there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and partisan investigations.

Tonight, President Trump also embraced soldiers and correctly called the wounded heroes, but when he had a chance to serve, he sought, and with the help of his father, received five deferments.  He claimed bone spurs and bad feet to avoid military service and chose to stay home and walk 18 holes on the golf course instead.

President Trump has continuously cultivated his base but has done virtually nothing to reach beyond it.  The most one could say about President Trump’s speech tonight is, in parts, he tried. However, the speech that stole the show was the one given after the SOTU by a defeated-and-cheated Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

The state of the American union is divided – politically, racially and economically.  The state of the American economy is uneven.  If 78 percent of the American people live paycheck-to-paycheck and 50 percent can’t come up with $400 in an emergency, who can claim the American people are secure economically?  Recently wages have been rising, but not at the same rate as the pay of top executives, the profits of corporations or the wealth of the rich.  President Trump barely mentioned infrastructure but put forth no real plan.  The greatest crisis in America – and the world – is global warming that’s contributing to climate change, not our southern border, but President Trump neglected to even mention it.  Neither did he mention poverty, voting rights – the number one agenda of Democrats – an opioid crisis, childcare centers, racial divisions or the predicament of the Governor of Virginia.

The real SOTU is less well respected in the world.  The real SOTU has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement and therefore is no longer a leader in combating climate change.  The real SOTU is the attempt to withdraw from NATO, the alliance that has kept peace in the world among the big powers for 70 years.  The real SOTU is possibly on the verge of another nuclear arms race and a reinstitution of the Cold War after threatening to withdraw from the US/Russian INF agreement.

The real SOTU is separating children from parents and putting them in cages.  The real SOTU is race and class discrimination and de facto segregation in America’s public schools.  The real SOTU is nearly 40 million Americans still have no health insurance.  The real SOTU has a crisis in affordable housing.  And according to the latest polls the American people say the SOTU is “going in the wrong direction”! 

Only Stacey Abrams recognized the real SOTU and offered a vision of a more hopeful future:  community responsibility resulting in jobs at livable wages; employment that meets today’s and tomorrow’s demands for workers making a livable wage that supports a family and enables them to send their children to college and graduate school if they have the ability; high quality health care for all Americans; the challenge of an infrastructure plan that provides American jobs at good wages and makes America competitive and an economic leader in the world again; and a commitment to meaningfully address the pressing issue of climate change before it is too late.

We are possibly heading for an economic recession, but we are already in a psychological depression.  Stacey Abrams speech tonight went a long way in restoring hope and challenging us to see a vision with realistic possibilities of what America can be. 

For her, all Americans should be grateful.




Frank Watkinsfwatkins@rainbowpush.org


Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.