Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on Feb. 4 at East Lansing High School, shortly after Trump’s speech ended in Washington D.C.
Addressing the nation from the public school her daughters, Sherry and Sydney, attend, she said she needed more than 10 minutes to respond to what the president had said.
“So instead of talking about what he is saying, I want to highlight what Democrats are doing,” Whitmer said. “ ... We, and all Americans, might be wary of today’s politics, but we must stay engaged.”
From early on, Whitmer made efforts to direct her message towards the younger population. The location of her speech, a public high school, was significant.
“Young people, I'm talking to you,” Whitmer said. “And your parents and your grandparents. Democrats want safe schools. We want everyone to have a path to a good life ... without going in debt.”
Whitmer talked about the plans and actions made by Democratic leaders across the country regarding the infrastructure of rebuilding bridges, fixing roads, expanding broadband and cleaning up drinking water.
Moving to the topic of healthcare, Whitmer shared her experience of becoming a member of the “sandwich generation.” At the age of 30, she was the primary caregiver to her newborn as well as her mother who was battling brain cancer. She said she had to fight her mother’s insurance company when they wrongly denied coverage for chemotherapy.
“It's pretty simple,” Whitmer said. “Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.”
In response to Trump’s speech on economy and “blue-collar boom.”
"It doesn’t matter what the president says about the stock market," Whitmer said. "What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans or prescription drugs."
"Michigan invented the middle class,” the governor said. “So we know if the economy doesn't work for working people, it just doesn't work.”
As Whitmer’s daughter, Sherry, will be graduating high school and casting her first ballot along with millions of other young Americans, Whitmer emphasized the connection between the two events.
“Walking across the graduation stage is as important as walking into the voting booth for the first time,” Whitmer said. “Her future, all our kids’ futures, will be determined not just by their dreams, but by our actions.”
The 49th governor of Michigan concluded her speech by addressing the current impeachment process.
She said, “There are some things that each of us, no matter our party, should demand. The truth matters, facts matter, and no one should be above the law.”
"It's time for action,” Whitmer added. “Generations of Americans are counting on us. Let’s not let them down."
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