On Jan. 12, 2016, President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address to Congress. This event is a reminder of how near we are approaching both the end of Obama’s final term as president and the coming elections that shall decide his successor.
It is required within the Constitution that the president shall “give to Congress information of the State of the Union," but it does not have to be delivered as a speech. Since the presidency of Herbert Hoover, the State of the Union address has been delivered as a speech, but for many years, it was delivered to Congress in a written form. The annual speech typically goes over what the president has done in the past year, what they hope to accomplish in the coming year, and the fundamental state of the union -or in layman’s terms: the condition of the country.
In Obama’s address, he started off with outlining his speech. He discussed achievements of gay marriage rights, healthcare for all, and the progress of clean energy. He strives to fix immigration system, stop gun violence, and raise minimum wage taking prominence. Before moving into the body of his speech, President Obama spoke about how America must embrace change with confidence and look forward to the far future if we are to continue leading the world like we have for decades.
President Obama’s speech took form over four major questions, each of which he discussed at length.
How do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?
In his discussion of this question, Obama discussed employment, education, and retirement. Obama reminded Congress that during his presidency, the unemployment rate has been cut in half and that we have maintained ourselves as, undoubtedly the world’s strongest economy. He said that we must give Pre-K education to all, and also must give any responsible student two years of free community college. Obama went on to say that we must make it easier for people to retire again, as it has become overly difficult for a hard working American to retire at a reasonable age. Obama finished out this section of his speech by reminding us that the private sector is the lifeblood of our economy.
How do we make technology work for us, not against us?
When Obama came to this question, he immediately brought up the continuing issue of climate change. He was firm on the point that climate change is hardly a debatable issue, and we must fight it if we want to preserve this world for our children, grandchildren, and beyond. Obama moved on to our achievements in clean energy at this point, bringing out several statistics. These statistics included the fact that in some places in America, clean wind power is now cheaper than dirtier power from coal and oil, or the fact that America has cut carbon emissions more than any other nation on Earth.
How do we keep America safe and lead the world, without becoming its policemen?
Here Obama quickly pounded out that America is, without a doubt, the most powerful nation on Earth and that our competition is “not even close.” He reminded everyone that, the world does not look to Beijing or Moscow for help in times of need; the world looks to us, the United States of America. He stood firm in his stance that although ISIL is a threat to citizens, they do not in any way threaten our national existence; however, they must be weeded out and destroyed through the continuation of the 60-nation coalition and airstrikes that we are leading. He argued that we should no longer simply conquer and rebuild every nation in crisis. He ended this chapter of the speech by promising that we will stop HIV/AIDS, and Malaria and will shut down the detention center in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO).
How can we make our politics reflect what is best in us, not what is worst?
In this final question, Obama said that we much each do our part as citizens by voting. Otherwise, our democracy will wither. He talked about how our forefathers expected us to argue as they did, and that for a successful democracy, we must argue about vital political issues. He stated clearly that the only way our nation can continue to thrive in the future is if we uphold our duty as citizens and participate in the democracy. He said that if we do not vote, and if we just let money continue to play such a large role in our politics, and if we do not try to bridge the party gap that only widened during hid presidency then our nation will slowly crumble and fail.