Against the backdrop of historically low approval ratings, a divided nation and looming midterm elections that could give control of Congress to Democrats, President Donald Trump was expected to stick to his typical script of tough talk on immigration, the economy and national security during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
But aside from regurgitating his usual “America first” rhetoric and touching on other policy issues, much of America – and the world — will also be listening for his signature racial dog whistling that has often fueled his speeches. While the content of his address is important, so are the people who will, and won’t be, in attendance, along with their reactions.
Here are some things to look for:
Much of the Congressional Black Caucus will be not attend because of Trump’s bigotry and policies that harm working-class families. The list includes Reps. Maxine Waters, John Lewis and Frederica Wilson.
Black lawmakers to wear red pins
Those Black lawmakers who do show up were expected to wear red pins to recognize the recent death of Recy Taylor, a Black woman who was raped in 1944 by six White men in Alabama. The gesture will come as the nation reckons with the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct and will shine a light on sexual violence during the dark days of the Jim Crow era.
The Black Response
Waters, one of Trump’s most outspoken critics, announced she will respond to the speech on BET News Tuesday night, leading off a special program called Angela Rye’s State of the Union. Afterward, activists and other elected officials will analyze Trump’s first year in office and discuss “building Black politics and the value of engagement across today’s socio-political landscape.”
Immigration (DACA and the border wall)
The divisive topic that became the hallmark of Trump’s election will likely be front and center, as the president is now open to a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. However, in exchange for his concessions, Trump wants $25 billion to build a wall along the nation’s border with Mexico.
Female lawmakers to wear black
Inspired by celebrities who wore black to recent awards shows, some female lawmakers were expected to do the same Tuesday night to show solidarity with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements to address sexual harassment allegations that swept through Hollywood and reached Capitol Hill.
Expect Trump to claim full and complete credit for the economy, including the lowest Black unemployment rate since the 1970s, even though economists have credited former President Obama’s policies and historically low interest rates.
Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy was expected to deliver his party’s response in part by insisting that Trump has accomplished very little legislatively except for passing a tax bill that favors wealthy individuals and corporations.
Happy Presidents' Day! 44 Photos To Make You Miss Obama
1. Barack Gives Daughter Malia a KissSource:Getty 1 of 42
2. Michelle and Barack tell the kids a storySource:Getty 2 of 42
3. Michelle and Barack KissSource:Getty 3 of 42
4. Michelle and BarackSource:Getty 4 of 42
5. First Family PortraitSource:Getty 5 of 42
6. Two TermsSource:Getty 6 of 42
7. Michelle and Barack host a State DinnerSource:Getty 7 of 42
8. Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaSource:Getty 8 of 42
9. The Obamas on Air Force OneSource:Getty 9 of 42
10. The First Family in LondonSource:Getty 10 of 42
11. First Lady Michelle Obama with daughters Malia Obama and Sasha ObamaSource:Getty 11 of 42
12. Sasha and Malia Obama at the 2016 State DinnerSource:Getty 12 of 42
13. Turkey PardoningSource:Getty 13 of 42
14. Sunday ChurchSource:Getty 14 of 42
15. Gobble, GobbleSource:Getty 15 of 42
16. Malia Obama, the First DaughterSource:Getty 16 of 42
17. Barack Obama and his daughter Malia ObamaSource:Getty 17 of 42
18. A Family AffairSource:Getty 18 of 42
19. Flashback To The Old DaysSource:Pete Souza 19 of 42
20. Happy Birthday!Source:Getty 20 of 42
21. Candidly AwesomeSource:Pete Souza 21 of 42
22. Historic First FamilySource:Getty 22 of 42
23. Ice Cream TreatSource:Getty 23 of 42
24. TV TimeSource:Pete Souza 24 of 42
25. Always Giving BackSource:Getty 25 of 42
26. A Christmas StorySource:Getty 26 of 42
27. Hawaii Trip!Source:Getty 27 of 42
28. Obama Loves Team USA & His WifeSource:Getty 28 of 42
29. Malia and Sasha ObamaSource:Getty 29 of 42
30. Michelle Plays on a BikeSource:Getty 30 of 42
31. Obama Loves Team USA, His Wife & MaliaSource:Getty 31 of 42
32. Reading TimeSource:Pete Souza 32 of 42
33. Family SupportSource:Getty 33 of 42
34. The Sister SelfieSource:Pete Souza 34 of 42
35. Supporting MomSource:Pete Souza 35 of 42
36. Giving Back On MLK DaySource:Getty 36 of 42
37. Obamas Give Back To The CommunitySource:Getty 37 of 42
38. Always Supporting Small BusinessesSource:Getty 38 of 42
39. Obama SwaggerSource:Getty 39 of 42
40. Laughs & TurkeysSource:Getty 40 of 42
41. Christmas With The ObamasSource:Getty 41 of 42
42. 50th Anniversary Of March On SelmaSource:Pete Souza 42 of 42
7 Things To Watch For At Trump’s First State Of The Union Address was originally published on newsone.com