Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters said on Friday that she will not attend President Trump’s first State of the Union address following his alleged derogatory remarks against Haiti, El Salvador, and other African nations.
In a guesting on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes”, Waters strongly asked: “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar? Someone who lies in the face of facts, someone who can change their tune day in and day out. What does he have to say that I would be interested in?”
And then Waters went on to reveal it was all about her as she told Hayes: “I don’t trust him, I don’t appreciate him and I wouldn’t waste my time… listening to what he has to say. He does not deserve my attention.”
The truth is Waters will not be alone in her decision not to attend the President’s State of the Union address. And no we’re not talking about a couple of other representatives from her party who share in her grandstanding display of supposedly “protesting” Trump. Some important congressmen will also not be in the building when Trump delivers his address. But unlike Waters, they won’t be there for a reason, a perfectly legal one at that. They are called the designated survivors.
It is the practice in the country to have a designated survivors. Usually, they are part of the presidential line of succession and are advised not to be in the same event or gathering as with the President and other top leaders in case some unexpected, unfortunate things happen, say, the building collapses or is bombed.
Designated survivors are arranged to be at a physically distant, secure, and undisclosed location during such occasions as the State of the Union address, or the presidential inaugural, among others. This is being observed so as to ensure continuity of government in the event of a catastrophic occurrence that heaven forbids- leaves the President dead for example and his other officials in the line of succession including the Vice President. Catastrophic events can be in the form of mass shooting, or in the age of terrorism, bombing, and also in the event that a rare deadly natural disaster strikes.
Under such extremely rare but possible scenario, the surviving highest official in the land and possibly among the designated survivors will take on the role of the Acting President of the United States under the Presidential Succession Act.
Designated survivors status is reserved for those truly qualified. They are also at the time of an event like the State of the Union provided presidential-level security and transport for the duration of an event.
Designated survivors will also be missing during Trump’s State of the Union Address for a crucial reason, and they won’t be there simply out of a whim or to call attention to themselves. Waters won’t be one of the designated survivors. She is not important enough.