I promised myself I wouldn’t write a follow-up column on President Obama’s State of the Union address. This topic normally falls into the “too trite” or “meaningless after the fact” category. But in the spirit of any good politician, I’ve decided to flip-flop on that decision and jot down a few post-speech thoughts anyway. Besides, his speech was just too good to pass up!
If there was a significant underlying theme to Obama’s speech, it had to be one of unity and mutual understanding. I heard a president pleading with both colleagues and constituents alike to establish a unified front in order to form a more perfect union (you like how I did that?). I watched a president personally challenge both sides of the aisle for the sake of the American people. I saw a seemingly desperate — albeit confident — president willing to do anything within his power to restore faith in the American economy. And I felt inspired to stand behind him in this pursuit.
Plain and simple, Obama’s top priority is jobs. He questioned why large American companies working offshore are granted tax breaks when small onshore companies struggle to retain employees. Tax breaks should go to the companies who create jobs in America, companies choosing “Buffalo over Bangalore,” as Obama once said. He also outlined his idea of loaning money to small, community banks to boost local economies. Not a bad concept at all.
When Obama finally addressed the elephant in the room, I thought he showed tact in admitting his strong push for health care reform lacked a concise explanation. It takes a certain amount of character to admit you’ve done wrong.
Obama’s speech hit a certain crescendo when he addressed the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to reverse a ruling on corporate campaign contributions. Regardless of how you feel, the Supreme Court ruling will likely degenerate an already ill political structure, and Obama felt it necessary to let them know. Some suggested it was a low blow, even a show of disrespect. I thoroughly enjoyed his bold take on the matter.
Almost on cue, Republicans and even a few Democrats wasted no time taking jabs at the president after his address. We’re in need of a resolute leader, and I would like to think we found a capable one in Obama. Any decent leader is bound to have a fair share of detractors and dissenters.
Look, I know it’s Washington, and I’m familiar with how Chicago politicians operate. Things get ugly, and fast. But this is the first time in years — decades even — that Congress has a chance to make history by doing the right thing. Unfortunately, as Obama noted, the Senate and House remain entrenched within party lines, hopelessly devoted to political ideology and idle talking points. Meanwhile, the country withers on the economical vine, destined to implode if no action is taken.
You and I are allowed to either like or dislike Obama. It’s our right. I for one didn’t exactly agree with his thoughts on “clean” nuclear energy. But we must understand that one man will not rescue us from our crisis. What matters is that we now have a president willing to try it all.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do not have complete faith in Obama, or any president/politician for that matter. But there is a fine line between critical skepticism and uninformed stubbornness, and I believe we’ve seen too much of the latter recently.
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