Obama’s Progressive State of the Union
by Eshani Chakrabarti on Friday, February 6th, 2015
On January 18, 2015, President Barack Obama gave his 7th State of the Union address, speaking to a House chamber filled with Congressmen and a broadcast audience of tens of millions. Obama led both of his campaigns based on a need for change, focusing most of his talk on what he believes to be a bright future of the United States.
After 2013, a year in which his National Registered Voters approval rating plummeted, Obama said, “I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth. The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress.”
Obama also utilized his annual State of the Union address to describe the course of action he intends to use with his executive authority as president.
“I’m eager to work with all of you,” Obama said to lawmakers of both conservative and liberal parties in the 65-minute nationally televised speech. “But America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Obama addressed many issues that have never been mentioned in a State of the Union speech; for example, the president declared marriage equality a civil right.
“I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country,” he said. “A civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.”
The president’s decision to support gay marriage contrasts his position as a candidate in 2008, when he opposed marriage equality, instead supporting only civil unions for same-sex couples.
This idea wasn’t the only first at a State of the Union Speech. The words “newlywed,” “ironic,” “hype,” “eBay,” and “Tesla” were used for the first time in a State of the Union address.
Obama’s ad-libbed zinger is also causing some controversy on many social media outlets. President Barack Obama said, “I have no more campaigns to run… I know because I won both of them.”
Overall, the focus of the State of the Union address shouldn’t be on Obama’s quip, or even on Joe Biden’s infamous grin. It is Obama’s emphasis on businesses having created “more than 8 million new jobs” in the last four years, the United States having reduced “our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth,” federal deficits having been “cut by half,” and troops on the ground in Afghanistan having been withdrawn.
Will Powers (II), when asked to comment on his opinions on the State of the Union address, said, “Overall, I felt as though Obama introduced a bunch of policies and ideas that seem pretty progressive, yet unobtainable with our current Congress. At the end, though, I felt that his vision for a bi-partisan America was pretty powerful, and I wish it was better received.”
When asked about the attention Milton Academy students pay to American politics, Charlie Barrett (I) said, “I’d say most of the upperclassmen pay some varying degrees of attention, with maybe 10% taking active interest, many more just keeping updated to very specific parts of the media or very specific areas of interest.” Although Charlie believes more interest should be placed on the state of American affairs, he says that “there are a variety of outlets like Facebook that are handy for learning things happening. If you actually follow up on the issues, you can learn a lot.”
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