It was the paper-shredding moment that sent shockwaves across the world (or at least on social media). At last night’s State of the Union, Nancy Pelosi ended the evening with an act of shade-throwing that took over everyone’s Twitter feeds: She ripped up her copy of Trump’s speech when it was all said and done, igniting yet another meme that is sure to become a cultural touchstone this year.
But the Speaker of the House wasn’t the only woman taking a stand against Trump. Several Democrats walked out before Trump finished his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Jackie Speier, who both left the room before Trump’s speech wrapped up. Rep. Norma Torres gave a visible thumbs down (pictured before) action in the middle of the SOTU, which summed up how a lot of people were feeling about Trump’s now highly fact-checked speech.
Tlaib, who is a member of the progressive Democratic “Squad,” explained on Twitter why she walked out mid-SOTU. “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,” She wrote.
“Shame on this forever impeached president.”
I walked out of that speech. 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.— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 5, 2020
But before Tlaib, who later said that the sound of Brett Kavanaugh’s name triggered her unplanned walk-out, said that her actions were really a stance for all women. “As a woman in America, the fact that he rightfully was accused, and having an incredibly strong woman come before the public and the world and tell her story of sexual assault by this person that was appointed to the Supreme Court is just — I couldn’t stand still and not do anything about it, and I needed to walk away from that,” she told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
Tlaib’s walkout wasn’t the only statement she made that night. Alongside fellow Squad-member Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to U.S. Congress both decided to wear traditional Palestinian and Somali clothing to the event. This action was not necessarily a protest to Trump’s entire speech, but a small and impactful way to push back against the bigotry both two women have faced since elected to office.
These two congresswomen weren’t the only one who took action to protest Trump’s speech, either — others opted to skip the whole thing altogether, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Maxine Waters. On Twitter, Pressley announced that she would not be attending, saying, “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House… I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham #SOTU.”
As for AOC, she called her decision not to go “deeply personal.” It was her way of not legitimizing “Trump’s lawless conduct and subversion of the Constitution,” which seemed to mirror what Pelosi ultimately said about her decision to rip his speech at the end.
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.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2020
None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it.
Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.
The fact that all four members of The Squad chose their own paths of protest against Trump’s SOTU is significant. After all, he’s literally called out each member and told them to go back to the countries they came from. Many Trump supporters have belittled their legislative achievements and have worked overtime to tear down their reputations.
Last year, they were among the Democratic women legislators who wore white to Trump’s SOTU. That tradition continued this year as well, as many of them are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment being ratified, which gave women the right to vote.
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