Obama Bids Farewell in Final State of Union
by Catie Wise on Friday, January 22nd, 2016
President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday January 12th, 2016. The speech is delivered annually by the president to Congress that reveals the state of the nation through the viewpoint of the administration. This State of the Union address was Obama’s last as president.
To kick-start his speech, Obama began with four questions he thought were necessary for us, as a country, to answer: “First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?” Obama touched on many important topics including threats from Islamic states, energy and climate control, our changing economy, our system of government, education, finding a cure for cancer, and many more. Obama stated, “I do not want to just talk about next year. I want to focus on the next five years, the next 10 years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.”
In reference to America’s economy, Obama said, “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. Now, what is true—and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious—is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit; changes that have not let up.” Obama believes these changes relate to the growing use of technology in businesses and how there is a positive and negative side to this development. The negative side of having fewer jobs available and less opportunities for a raise is the change in economy that resonates more with Americans because it “[does] offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot,” as stated by Obama.
Obama then went on to share his vision for the future of education in America. He stressed the importance of pursuing education, but also mentioned the struggle of being able to pay for a successful education in America. “We have to make college affordable for every American,” stated Obama. “No hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to 10 percent of a borrower’s income. And that’s good. But now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.”
The topic of cancer and finding a cure was a brief discussion in Obama’s address. In respect to his Vice President Joe Biden, Obama brought up this topic to pay a tribute to Biden’s son Beau, who died last year from brain cancer. “Last month [Biden] worked with this Congress to give scientist at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade. So tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can’t still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”
Obama then moved to the topic of international relations and explored the role America plays in the fight against terrorism. He believes that America needs to figure out our priorities. “Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage,” Obama stated. “The American people should know that with or without congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment—or mine—to see that justice is done, just ask Osama bin Laden…. When you come after Americans, we go after you. And it may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limits.”
The opinion of the current government in America through Obama’s eyes is that the system needs fixing. He believes that too many Americans feel as if they do not have a voice. When speaking to the American people in particular, Obama stated, “If we want a better politics, it’s not enough just to change a congressman or change a senator or even change a President. We have to change the system to reflect our better selves…. We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections…. We’ve got to make it easier to vote, not harder. We need to modernize it for the way we live now.”
Obama ended his final State of the Union on a positive and hopeful note. After discussing how he can see the future of America in the everyday citizenship around him, Obama ended with: “That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Undaunted by challenge. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people. And that’s why I stand here confident as I have ever been that the State of our Union is strong.”
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