Let’s face it: American government has never been exceptionally strong, and I mean, who really expects it to be? Every system has its flaws (some more than others) and it’s up to the President to attempt put this great nation at ease despite arising problems. The Obama Administration has had an especially difficult year, so it was a challenging task to create a plausible wishlist while also addressing the major problems without much support from Congress. Major topics in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address included economy, immigration, healthcare, education, and gun violence/war. Not only were these widely mentioned in Obama’s previous SOTU addresses, but also in previous Presidents’ speeches as well.
Immigration reforms and issues have always been something mentioned by Presidents, but not many took action on it. President Obama has mentioned the reform every year since his first SOTU, but never got much further than saying “let’s get it done by the end of this year,” as he said on Tuesday. However, we can’t blame Obama for not going through with it if he’s had plenty previous examples to make him feel better. Former President George W. Bush said in his 2008 SOTU Address that immigration was a challenging topic and securing the borders was crucial, and he had “laid out proposals to reform these programs,” and later put it on Congress to work with him just as Obama reiterated, but we all know how lovingly Congress and the White House get along.
Economy in America has never really recovered after the Great Depression. Every year, regardless of the President, there just never seems to be enough money anywhere. President Obama addressed the inequality in economic levels, and the threat of a rapidly shrinking middle class. He described the unfairness in the wealthy as getting wealthier while others live in poverty while working a full time job. Most Presidents spoke of tax reduction to decrease economic stress, but President Kennedy’s 1963 State of the Union Address largely revolved around tax reforms and reduction in the process of economic recovery, but a lot of the points he mentioned like adjusting not only corporate tax rates but also individuals were still present in President Obama’s SOTU Address. Following the years of the Women’s Rights Movement, income equality for females was a popular topic in SOTU Addresses around the 1920s, and the problem still has not been solved since President Obama stated that “women still make 77 cents for ever dollar a man makes, and that is just an embarrassment.”
Despite all the promises mentioned by Presidents that weren’t completed, and a government shutdown because no one could agree on anything, the country has not completely failed and maybe in future SOTU Addresses a President will not sugarcoat things and actually get stuff done. For now, we have ten minutes of greetings and at least 20 cumulative minutes of applause to keep us entertained every year.
John F. Kennedy: “Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union.,” January 14, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9138.
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.
George W. Bush: “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” January 28, 2008. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=76301.