By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, syoes@afro.com

The only reason I endured Donald John Trump slump through one of the longest State of the Union addresses in American history (I felt like throwing up on more than one occasion), was to hear Stacey Abrams deliver the Democratic response to Trump’s troth of lies.

But, before I get to the ascendant Abrams, let me be clear; Trump’s speech was not radically beyond the arc of past SOTU addresses. Presidents use the speech largely to brag on their administration’s alleged accomplishments. Further, the SOTU speech historically has been a moment of grand political theatre and of course, Trump loves drama.

But, maybe the most dramatic and bizarre moment of Trump’s onerous speech will ultimately prove to be prophetic.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way,” Trump said, regarding the ongoing Mueller Russian investigation. This wasn’t Trump’s awkward attempt to mimic Jesse Jackson, or even Johnny Cochran.

No, this was a Trumpian homage to Tricky Dick Nixon, who during his January 30, 1974 SOTU speech declared, “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough,” Nixon said. By August, faced with the prospect of impeachment and removal from office, the embattled president resigned. I am prayerful Trump’s invocation of Nixon will lead the 45th president to the 37th president’s fate.

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

Ultimately, Trump’s call for unity, his urging for Americans to strive for greatness and all of his lofty admonitions during the SOTU are laughable coming from the mouth of a man who refers to African nations as “sh**hole countries,” aligns himself with Nazis and klansmen, and has uttered more than 8,000 lies in two years.

Trump is an abomination. By contrast, Abrams was a revelation as she rebuffed him.

The former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and the recent Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia was handed the Herculean task of not flopping in giving the response to the SOTU; many of tried, almost all have failed. However, Abrams, the first Black woman to ever deliver the response to the SOTU address smashed a towering home run. For the Democrats to hand Abrams the ball is not only a nod to the immense talent and intelligence of this rising political star, but also an acknowledgement that Black women are the steel spine of the Democratic Party.

She was cogent and charismatic and did not disappoint.

“We know bipartisanship could craft a 21st century immigration plan, but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart,” said Abrams, regarding the Trump administration’s draconian and diabolical “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Then with aplomb, Abrams took on Trump’s absence of veracity.

“Even as I am very disappointed by the president’s approach to our problems, I still don’t want him to fail,” she said. “But, we need him to tell the truth and to respect his duties and respect the extraordinary diversity that defines America. Our progress has always been found in the refuge, in the basic instinct of the American experiment – to do right by our people.”

But, perhaps Abrams’ finest moment during her response to the SOTU was a reflection on her father and her family when she was a child. She explained that on one rainy night her mother and siblings piled into the family car to pick up Abrams’ father from work and discovered him walking along the side of the road shivering without his coat.

“He explained he had given away his coat to a homeless man he had met on the highway. When we asked why he had given away his only jacket, my dad turned to us and said, “I knew when I left that man he would still be alone, but I could give him my coat because I knew you were coming for me,”” Abrams said. “My family understood first hand although success is not guaranteed we live in a nation where opportunity is possible, but we do not succeed alone…when times are tough we can persevere because our friends and neighbors will come for us.”

Abrams came up just short in her bid to become the first Black woman to be a United States governor, but she will never be considered a loser.

And if those who truly care about justice and equality in this country work really hard, perhaps in the not so distant future instead of giving the Democratic response, Stacey Abrams will deliver the State of the Union address.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and the author of ‘Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.’

 

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor