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Beacon Authors Speak Truth to Trump After His State of the Union Address

2018 State of the Union
2018 State of the Union. Photo credit: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen

Last year on Inauguration Day, our authors voiced to Donald Trump what they wanted him to know, understand, and beware of as commander-in-chief. Since then, the myriad doubts, concerns, and fears about what he and his administration would do during his term have persisted and/or increased. Some of our authors have returned with follow-up responses for him in the wake of his State of the Union address. We share them with you below.


Aviva Chomsky“I actually have something to say to the Democrats, rather than to Trump. If you want to remain relevant in this country, you need to offer a real alternative. Many people voted for Trump because they were sick of generations of corporate-friendly Democrats who presided over the privatization of the public sector, mass incarceration, and profits for the few at the expense of the many. There is a reason Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America.”
—Aviva Chomsky, “They Take Our Jobs!” And 20 Other Myths About Immigration 


Steve Early“On Tuesday night, January 30, President Trump told us he was ‘building a safe...America’ and, at the same time, eliminating ‘more regulations than any other administration in history.’ That does not compute well in oil refinery towns like Richmond or Torrance, California, where refinery neighbors know that more, not less, government regulation is needed for safer jobs, a healthier community, and a less polluted planet. If we can’t rely on federal enforcement under the Trump Administration, more cities, counties, and states will have to take their own initiatives to reduce harm to oil industry workers and ‘front-line community’ residents.”
—Steve Early, Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City 


Michael Honey“Trump’s threats to fire federal employees who don’t toe his line, kill undocumented immigrants considered to be gang members, build an American Berlin Wall, and to create more weaponized nuclear warheads tell us that worse is yet to come. As during the 1930s, we need to put aside liberal-left differences to fight fascism in the ‘USA, USA, USA!’”
—Michael Honey, editor, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “All Labor Has Dignity”  


Sharon Leslie Morgan“I remain appalled at your ineptitude and total lack of comprehension, compassion, and respect for human values, moral principles, and social/political civility. You are digging a grave for American democracy, and I live in fear that you will not be stopped in your tracks before the damage is too great to overcome. I could not bring myself to watch your State of the Union address, because the true state of the union is that a vulgarian is in charge, who is leading us down a slippery slope into the maws of anarchy.”
—Sharon Leslie Morgan, Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade  


Danielle Ofri“This past year has cranked up the anxiety on my patients. They worry about losing health insurance. They worry about financial calamity that could ensue if a family member gets a serious illness. They worry about friends or family (or themselves) being deported. They worry about the increased bigotry their children are experiencing. This anxiety has permeated into their lives and often crowds out other medical issues. I can see it taking a toll on their health.

All Americans deserve excellent medical care and security that illness will not bankrupt them. Our tax dollars are paying for superb health plans for the president and Congress. I’d like my patients to get the same quality care. My NYC public hospital is only thirty blocks from Trump Tower. The inhabitants of both these buildings deserve the very best of American medicine.”
—Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear 


Annelise Orleck“The attacks on immigrants in 2018 State of the Union were reprehensible. As in so many of his speeches since 2015, Trump intentionally misrepresented immigrants’ involvement in crime, which is far less common than among citizens, inaccurately insisted that the diversity visa system has made Americans less safe, and dismissed immigrants’ contributions to the American economy, without which our food would cost far more. (And by the way, undocumented immigrants contribute billions to US tax coffers annually, unlike the President.) Trump also misrepresented the family reunification provisions of American immigration law, that have for more than fifty years functioned as the most humane aspect of our immigration system, premised on a genuine belief in “family values,” as opposed to the current administration’s obsession with ripping families apart on the pretense of strengthening American borders.

Perhaps the most frightening and damaging piece of the SOTU as far as the future of US democratic institutions is concerned was Trump’s call on Congress to give him the power to dismiss federal officials who refuse to obey the President. This call was couched in terms of punishing those who let the American people down. But make no mistake about it: this was an attempt to dramatically expand executive power in ways that would permanently undermine our system of checks and balances. The speech may have been boring but it was also terrifying—in its heartlessness, its mendacity, and its naked affection for autocracy.”
—Annelise Orleck, “We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now”: The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages  


Eileen Truax“The United States is built on the idea that everyone deserves an opportunity to achieve their Dream. So yes, Americans are Dreamers, but Dreamers are Americans, too. 

These 1.8 million young men and women are part of our communities and want to stay here because they love this country. Every day—every day—they hear, “We don’t want you. We are going after you. You don’t belong here. Go back!” And yet, every day they go to college, enroll in the Army, and work hard, because they want to give something back to the United States, the only country they know.

No matter how many doors they find closed, they still love this country and work for it.

Mr. Trump: Is there anything more American than that?”
—Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigration Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream