I respond to the recent letter of Joan Ingram. In her letter, Ingram criticized as disrespectful the refusal by Democrats in Congress to applaud President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. I do not know Ingram, but I assume she is a person of fine character and one whose principles are unaffected by partisanship. I also thank her for her philanthropy.
I know how Ingram feels. I was appalled on eight occasions when Republicans in Congress sat on their hands during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d go through the Advocate archives to read the letters Ingram must have written on those occasions. I bet they’re as eloquent as the one printed on Feb. 6.
I can’t speak for the members of the Black Caucus, but if I had to guess, I’d guess they didn’t clap because they disapprove of Trump’s support and encouragement of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Also, they probably know that the improved economy and positive trends for black employment began well before the current administration. But those are just guesses.
At least no Democrat shouted “You lie!” as the Republican congressman did during an Obama State of the Union address. That step forward should give Ingram comfort.
But we did take a step backward when Trump called the opposition’s silence “treasonous.” Obama did not so label the Republicans’ silence. He knew members of Congress take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. They do not swear an oath of allegiance to the president. That sort of Pledge of Allegiance to The Leader is something our Greatest Generation fought against.
I’m not sure what members of Congress should do when they find a president repugnant or morally bankrupt. An oath of civility would likely run afoul of the Constitution. Perhaps we should return to the days when the State of the Union address was in written form only.