Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., said Americans feel “forgotten and forsaken” under President Trump, and touted the Democrats’ “Better Deal” agenda as the better path forward in the Democrats' official response to the president’s State of the Union.
“Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark,” Kennedy said Tuesday night as he delivered the Democratic response to Trump’s speech from Falls River, Mass. “But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”
Kennedy said Trump's first year has been mired in partisanship, and accused the Trump administration of advocating policies that benefit only some American citizens.
“It would be easy to dismiss the past year as chaos. Partisanship, as politics. But it’s far, far bigger than that,” he said. “This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they're targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.
"For them, dignity isn't something you're born with, but something you measure. By your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size, not to mention the gender of your spouse, the country of your birth, the color of your skin, the God of your prayers.”
He criticized the policies enacted by the Trump administration during the president's first year in office and said the views of the president do not represent those of America, referencing specially Trump's remarks on the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last year, as well as Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
"We've seen an economy that makes stocks soar, investor portfolios bulge and corporate profits climb, but fails to give workers their fair share of the reward. A government that struggles to keep itself open. Russia knee-deep in our democracy. An all-out war on environmental protection, and a Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day, hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets," Kennedy said. "Bullets tearing through our classrooms, concerts, congregations, targeting our safest sacred places. This nagging, sinking feeling no matter your political beliefs that this is not right. This is not who we are."
Kennedy pitched to the American people the Democrats’ “Better Deal” agenda, which was rolled out last year and seeks to attract voters who supported Trump and Republicans during the 2016 election.
“We choose a better deal for all who call this country home. We choose the living wage, paid leave and affordable child care your family needs to survive. We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford,” he said. “We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction. We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices and brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.”
He also delivered a message directly to Dreamers, the name given to those brought to the U.S. illegally as children: "You are a part of our story. We will fight for you, and we will not walk away."
Kennedy is one of five Democrats delivering rebuttals to Trump’s State of the Union, which called for unity and bipartisanship as lawmakers seek to forge deals on immigration and infrastructure.
Many Democrats used the annual address to offer their own protests of the president.
Several Democratic lawmakers boycotted the speech, and more than two dozen, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, hosted Dreamers at the event.
Dreamers had been protected from the threat of deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump ended the program last year, and gave Congress until March 5 to legislate a new program.
Female Democratic lawmakers also wore black to Trump’s State of the Union to raise awareness of sexual misconduct in the workplace.