The Aesthetic State of the Union

Every year the president delivers a state of the union address to congress as mandated by the constitution. However, the state of the union address has become less and less about the actual points the president has to make and more about the presentation of the speech itself. Excluding Washington and Adams no president up until Wilson had even personally delivered the speech to congress. The address was sent to congress in the form of a manuscript or letter. Jefferson started the tradition of sending written State of the Union Addresses to Congress because he believed that personally speaking in front of Congress was too similar to the British monarch’s tradition of addressing Parliament. As time progressed, the address slowly gained more of a presentation and lost seriousness.

Now-a-days, the address is always televised and the presentation has a lot to do with how seriously the address is taken. In recent years, one of the most controversial aspects of the address wasn’t a point the president made, it was the color of his tie. The appearance of the president and most of the members of the audience is talked about more than the actual speech. For example, on one site that summarized main points of the address, this was the first point:

Love this picture:

Instead of paying attention to how many times the president was interrupted by applause (it averaged around once per minute), people should pay more attention to the good points that President Obama actually made like increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 or reforming immigration laws. He proposed new programs to increase America’s clean energy production and offer high-quality pre-K for every child. The State of the Union Address is an important tradition (and law) in our nation’s history, but it has lost a lot of its meaning with the growing importance of image. The State of the Union is more than just a speech that people can use to analyze the president’s wardrobe or make fun of legislators, it is an important method of informing congress, and the nation, of what we as citizens need to do to keep our nation great.





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