A Full Circle

A few days ago, President Obama gave his State of the Union address. He reaffirmed that the country’s economy is improving, and that our country is one of the strongest in the world. He also stated his goals for this year, based on the problems that the U.S. is still facing: unemployment, education, competition with other nations, women’s wages, health care, and concerns about nuclear weapons and terrorists. Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy’s State of the Union address discussed much of the same topics and concerns.

Both Obama’s and Kennedy’s first topic in their speeches was the problem of unemployment. Obama states that even though the economy is improving, there are still many people unemployed, while the rich are still getting richer. Kennedy describes much of the same process: “As those who leave our schools and farms demand new jobs, automation takes old jobs away.” This problem persists today, as Obama stated: “massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.”

Yet, despite the fact that advances in technology are contributing to loss of jobs, both Kennedy and Obama wanted to further research and advance technology, because of competition with other nations. Because of this, Obama said, education would have to improve in order for Americans to have a better future. This idea is the same as Kennedy’s. He also advocated improving the education system, saying that this would “make society the servant of the individual and the individual the source of progress, and thus to realize for all the full promise of American life.”

Both presidents also had concerns regarding equality within the nation. Kennedy expressed his support of civil rights and equality for people of all races. Likewise, Obama stated that currently women have lower wages than men; he believed that women should have equal pay as men. These two ideas are essentially the same, except for the situation. Both want to achieve true equality for everyone. Even though we have come a long way in terms of equality compared to the past, and that currently we consider everyone equal, the fact that women have lower pay shows that we are not quite there yet.

Another point that both Obama and Kennedy have in common is that they were both concerned about nations abroad, militarily speaking. During Kennedy’s presidency, one of the main worries was communism and the spread of communism. He was also anxious about nuclear weapons. Similarly, Obama is also concern about other nations’ nuclear stockpiles. However, instead of the worry of communism, he is more worried about terrorism and the threat of it. Both presidents were concerned about other nations threatening America, and spoke of things they have done and will do in the future to prevent such threats.

By looking at these two State of the Union addresses, the phrase “history repeats itself” comes to mind. Even though about fifty years have passed since Kennedy’s speech, we can see that the country essentially still faces the same obstacles. The country finds a way to overcome them, but eventually is faced with the same problem, under different circumstances.


“John F. Kennedy (January 11, 1962).” Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.<http://www.infoplease.com/t/hist/state-of-the-union/175.html&gt;.

Barack Obama: “Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union,” January 28, 2014. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. <http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=104596.&gt;

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