The most recent government shutdown was a “stunt engineered” by President Trump that “defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values,” Democrat Stacey Abrams said in the party’s response to the Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
Abrams’s response, following a typically Trumpian address full of both attempts at bipartisan messaging and divisive rhetoric, began with an introduction of her background to the nation. What followed was a clear rundown of the Democratic platform including bipartisan immigration reform, economic inequality, health care reform, taking climate change policy seriously, and Abrams’ own personal passion: fair elections and voter access.
“We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present – which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds – and call racism what it is. Wrong,” she said. “America achieved a measure of reproductive justice in Roe v. Wade, but we must never forget it is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda. We affirmed marriage equality, and yet, the LGBTQ community remains under attack.”
Abrams, 45, narrowly lost November’s gubernatorial race in Georgia against Republican Brian Kemp in a tough election battle. Despite the odds of a Democrat — and a black woman at that — winning a statewide race in Georgia, Abrams won support for both her willingness to compromise at times with Republicans as a state legislator and also championing an unabashedly progressive plank.
The Georgia Democrat is the first Black woman to deliver the official rebuttal, according to the Washington Post. The job is fitting as the party continues to reckon with the call to stop ignoring Black women who have largely been loyal to the Democrats for decades, while being largely shut out of policy considerations. It was only two years ago when Black women were — again — heralded for keeping Roy Moore from the Senate in the wake of heinous sexual harassment allegations. Last year, women of color played a significant role in the blue wave that gave Democrats the majority in the House.
So while Abrams may have lost her election, the party is placing a prominent Black woman up against Trump’s annual address.
“Our progress has always found refuge in the basic instinct of the American experiment – to do right by our people,” she said. “And with a renewed commitment to social and economic justice, we will create a stronger America, together. Because America wins by fighting for our shared values against all enemies: foreign and domestic. That is who we are – and when we do so, never wavering - the state of our union will always be strong.”