State of the Union Addresses: Past and Present
The State of the Union address has been given by almost every president in the history of the United States with the exceptions of James Garfield and William Henry Harrison. Ever since George Washington in 1790, at least one State of the Union address has been given every year. They have been given over the radio, solely in writing, or in a speech. State of the Union addresses from centuries ago have some similarities to the speech given by President Obama on Tuesday night.
The President used the speech to speak about many issues, some being focused around social change. For instance, he spoke on equal pay for men and women with the memorable quote, “It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” This echoes calls from other presidents, notably, former president William Clinton in his State of the Union in 2000. At the time, the former president stated, “We must do better, by providing the resources to enforce present equal pay laws, training more women for high-paying, high-tech jobs, and passing the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”
The President also made some remarks about the current military situation in the Middle East. George Washington commented on the current military situation in the very first State of The Union address, “The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.” Similarly to Obama, he spoke briefly about what was being considered militarily which is a consistently important part of the current affairs for many nations. In the case of George Washington, defense against the Native Americans was a prime reason for military strength while that is no longer a concern today. In all three cases, these presidents gave an overview of the country both socially and militarily which are both still prominent in State of the Union addresses today and will continue to be important.