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Schakowsky will boycott Trump’s State of the Union speech

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Jan. 15, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-Ill., will boycott President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, “the language and actions of the president should not be considered the new normal and just proceed as business as usual.

“The American people have been subjected to a year of racist and erratic and divisive behavior,” she said.

Schakowsky, in her tenth term, represents the 9th congressional district, taking in parts of Evanston, Skokie, Park Ridge and other north suburban and North Side Chicago lakefront turf. She did not skip former President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speeches.

She cited specific reasons for skipping the speech – usually the biggest audience of the year for a president: Trump’s Muslim ban; reaction of the violence in Charlottesville and his failure to denounce Nazis and more recently using vulgar language to refer to African nations during a discussion about immigration.

Trump has “disrespected millions and millions of Americans and the presidency itself,” Schakowsky said.

Trump’s speech in the House chamber will be his first official State of the Union address. It comes at a time where there is a wide, polarized divide between Democrats and Republicans and after a brief federal government shutdown.

Trump’s speech is expected to include a controversial framework on immigration, putting a $25 billion price tag on a variety of enforcement measures – with a wall just one item – in exchange for extending legal protections to “Dreamers.”

Trump delivered a speech before a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017, just over a month after his inauguration – but a speech coming so close to a presidential first term swearing is not considered a “State of the Union.”

Schakowsky did attend Trump’s 2017 address, but that was “before we got the full sense of where Donald Trump was coming from.”

House and Senate Democrats are not united on whether to boycott or attend the SOTU. Schakowsky said, members should not go to the event “just for the sake of politeness.”

Asked if a boycott was a dishonor to the presidency, Schakowsky said, “I see the president as a danger to this country and I want to see more Republicans stand up to him.

“…In my own good conscience, I just cannot participate in one of the most honored traditions of our country because I see a man who disrespects our institutions.”