In Response To Clapping Controversy, Sen. Duckworth Cites Roosevelt's Defense Of Free Speech

The passage is over 100 years old, but it still resonates today.

In a speech given in Ohio on Feb. 5, President Donald Trump took aim at members of Congress who seemingly didn't clap for him during the State of the Union address delivered last week even as he touted positive unemployment numbers. The commander-in-chief accused those who didn't clap of "treason," a crime punishable by death. Politicians on both sides of the aisle expressed dismay over his choice of words. 


In response to the offhand comment, which, according to CNN, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has since described as a joke, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Il.) took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the clapping controversy. After explaining that as a veteran of the Iraq war and  American citizen, she will not be told when to clap, Duckworth shared a powerful (and relevant) quote from former president Theodore Roosevelt with her followers.

The quote reads, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Per The Washington Post, the powerful passage was lifted from an opinion piece the former president wrote during World War I, but clearly still resonates today.

By including the Roosevelt quote in her rebuttal, Duckworth argues that criticism of politicians, including the president, is a vital component of a functioning democracy — and that clapping likely shouldn't be required.

Cover image via Gregory Reed /


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