At this point in the Trump Administration, waiting for a surprise at the State of The Union address (SOTU) is a waste of time.
Since Donald Trump took the seat in the Oval Office, we’ve become accustomed to his annual accountability being an extension of his political campaign, interspersed with a Republican bench squatting.
Although the SOTU was conceived in 1913 as a presidential message that included an economic report and a proposed legislative agenda, in today’s America none of this is heard from the president’s voice.
So we settled for some gestures that speak of hope in the country, such as the wave of women dressed in white or the iconic applause of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the 2019 address.
However, and since 1966, every presidential speech has had a response from a member of the opposition party, in honor of the democratic spirit of checks and balances.
And what better way to respond to a president whose administration has done everything in its power to harm minority communities than with the voice of a Latino representative.
In 2018, it was Representative Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts (in English) and State Delegate Elizabeth Guzman of Virginia (in Spanish); in 2019 it was Former State Representative Stacey Abrams of Georgia and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California.
This year, as announced by the House of Representatives, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Texas Representative Veronica Escobar will give the speech.
“Whether it’s giving a voice to Latinos across America, or helping her hometown of El Paso heal after gun violence, or holding the Trump Administration accountable for its assaults on the vulnerable, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar has embodied the best of public service in her first year in Congress,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said in a statement. “At times like these, we need champions to step up, so I am thrilled she will deliver the Democratic Spanish-language response.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, and educated at New York University, Escobar began her career in government as a county commissioner and county judge in El Paso, and during the 2018 midterm elections, she became one of the first two Latinas to be elected to Congress from Texas.
As Representative of Texas’ 16th Congressional District, she has been a spokesperson against the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant measures and was the face of her community’s grief during the shooting that took the lives of 22 people in El Paso.
As The Hill recalls, when President Trump announced his intentions to meet with the survivors, Escobar said he was “not welcome” in the city.
“I would ask his staff and his team to consider the fact that his words and his actions have played a role in this,” she said at the time.
Now, with another opportunity to speak for her community, Escobar underscored “our diversity is our strength,” in a tweet last Friday, after her role was announced at the annual address. “Now more than ever, Democrats will continue to celebrate our diversity, defend our democracy, and work for a more equal and just nation.”