For one final night, Americans tuned in to listen to President Obama’s seventh and final State of the Union Address. Most Americans had predispositions on the speech long before it even occurred. Republicans watched in animosity, celebrating the departure of what they see as a failed presidency. Democrats flipped to CNN to celebrate their liberal hero one final time.
Prior to the president’s speech, the White House tweeted out this photo. A braggadocios reminder of the successes of Obama’s term.
As informed citizens we must be careful reading numbers like these. Politicians often point to peaks and troughs to shape the political picture in their favor. But at the same time, these figures cannot be overlooked. The unemployment rate is near the natural rate, the deficit is shrinking and more American’s have health insurance than ever.
It would be difficult to argue that much of the success of Obama’s domestic policy is not due to the business cycle. Economies tend to flux in and out of recessions and there is little doubt Bush bared most of the blunt of the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing financial crisis.
But Obama deserves some credit too. It’s unlikely that gay marriage would have been legalized under a Republican president. It’s improbable that America would be a leader in the fight against climate change. And it’s near impossible that more Americans would have health insurance.
Whether you believe it’s in spite of or because of him, Obama’s America is a better one.
While Obama touted the successes of the past he gave equal time to his hope for the future. During last night’s address we traveled into the past, seeing glimpses of “Yes We Can!” Obama, just with a few more grey hairs on his head, and wrinkles on his face.
While the 2016 election spirals into one of hatred and fear, Obama continue to spreads the gospel of hope, of a better America, and ultimately of a better world. So here are three hopeful takeaways from last night’s State of the Union Address.
A Cure for Cancer
This is an issue that hits at the hearts of almost all Americans. An issue free of political divide. And a cause that many Penn Staters dance for every year. The President vowed “to make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”
He went on to add, “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 forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”
Fight Against Fear
A lot of the rhetoric used by politicians today wants to scare you. But Obama wants to fight against that. He noted that fewer than 300 Americans have been killed by terrorist in the last decade.
Obama’s critics are quick to say he does not take the threat of the Islamic State serious enough. It was clear last night that Obama had had enough of that. Obama continued the underlying trend that he has always supported: to be scared of the terrorist and to let it affect our better judgment is to let the terrorist win.
It’s no secret that today’s political rhetoric sounds more like Middle School playground banter than actual policy reforms. The political divide between parties is stronger and more distasteful than ever. This is an issue Obama promised to fix in 2008 and last night he admitted that he had failed. Calling it, “one of the few regrets” of his presidency.
However, the President was clear that this is still a fixable issue and that all American’s must play a part and added clear instructions on how to do so.
“If we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.”
For his final words the President began to shout. “That’s why I stand here as confident as I have ever been, that the state of our union is strong!”
He wasn’t wrong.