FALL RIVER, Mass. (CBSNewYork) — Following President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) attacked Trump’s administration as leaving people behind, and called for bringing people together.
Speaking from a vocational school in Fall River, Massachusetts, Kennedy, 37 — a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy — painted a bleak picture of America under the Trump administration.
“Many have spent the past year anxious, angry, afraid. We all feel the fault lines of a fractured country. We hear the voices of Americans who feel forgotten and forsaken,” Kennedy said. “We see 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; a Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day; hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets.”
Of the Trump administration itself, Kennedy said, “This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are 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 — bot to mention, the gender of your spouse; the country of your birth; the color of your skin; the God of your prayers,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the “American promise” stands in contrast to the policies of the current administration. He said the American ideal was “the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count, in the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government.”
But he accused the Trump administration of “turning American life into a zero-sum game.”
“Where, in order for one to win, another must lose; where we can guarantee America’s safety if we slash our safety net; we can extend healthcare to Mississippi if we gut it in Massachusetts.; we can cut taxes for corporations today if we raise them for families tomorrow; we can take care of sick kids if we sacrifice Dreamers,” Kennedy said.
“We choose a better deal for all who call this country home,” Kennedy said.
Among other things, he called for “pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford.” He also said “an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices” and one that is “brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right” are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Kennedy went on to address Dreamers — people who brought to the United States illegally as children – with a few words in Spanish. He further addressed the social movements and rescue efforts that have made headlines in the past year – often rebuking Trump administration policies.
“You sat high atop your mom’s shoulders and held a sign that read: ‘Build a wall and my generation will tear it down,’” Kennedy said, “You bravely say, me too. You steadfastly say, black lives matter.”
“Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark,” Kennedy said. “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.”
In a concluding message of optimism, Kennedy said, “Ladies and gentlemen, have faith: The state of our union is hopeful, resilient, enduring.”