In a perfect world, for a State of the Union address (SOTU), we likely would’ve heard a president who actually made sense and who likely would’ve been truthful even if we disagreed with the content of what he said.
We’ve learned to set a low bar for #45, yet he goes beneath it consistently! About 500 years ago, Michelangelo said, “It’s not that our aim is too high, and we miss it; but that it’s too low and we reach it.” He must’ve had someone like #45 in mind when he said that because at this year’s SOTU, some of us expected him to try to be civil, and tell few truths. Didn’t he know the fact-checkers were working that night? He could’ve avoided some of the untrue statements by speaking a lot less time. The longer he talked, the more lies he told.
#45 doesn’t even bring us close to a perfect world, but immediately following his rambling remarks, a shining star did what we would’ve expected a president to do. Stacey Abrams delivered a powerful response to #45’s SOTU message. She was inclusive. She even said she didn’t want #45 to fail. Some might have disagreed with her on that point, but she was right on point on everything else she said.
She was being overly kind to #45 and refused to stoop to the level of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who once said the most important thing for his party to do was make Barack Obama a one-term president. In other words, he wanted President Obama to fail! Abrams was better than that with #45.
Stacey, who ran for governor of Georgia, captured our imagination in that race and won the hearts of people all across the nation, was better than that for a man who didn’t deserve to be spoken of kindly. She was forceful and truthful without expressing meanness or hatred as did #45. Not even the fact-checkers found grounds upon which to disagree with Stacey.
Stacey’s remarks were forward-looking. She represented the needs of all Americans. She reminded us of the big tent that should be represented in our country. She made us feel included without regard to race, creed, color, the poor, immigrants and others. She spoke to those who were impacted by #45’s shutdown of the government. She left no stone unturned and ran circles around #45.
She spoke against hateful acts and policies. She spoke of a party expanding the electorate and preserving the right for all to vote, “We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counted is a power grab.” She supports the right of all to health care, inclusiveness, fair pay and the right to basic human dignity.
Stacey made us proud as the first time a Black woman had the opportunity to deliver a SOTU response. Despite challenges, Black women continue to knock down barriers because all that we ever needed were opportunities. Stacey is an example of what former first lady Michelle Obama meant when she said, “When they go low, we go high.” Her remarks were expressed firmly and with the right temperament. She provided that strong contrast with #45.
To the contrary, #45 spoke like a dictator with his attempt at being poetic. One of his most memorable remarks was, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” In 11 minutes, Stacey’s remarks were far more meaningful than #45’s nearly 90 minutes of rambling. In a perfect world, he would do his job and allow Congress to do theirs.
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.