The Similarities and Differences Between The State of the Union Now and 40 Years Ago

I did not know which speech to compare Obama’s most recent state of the union address to, so I randomly chose Nixon’s address from 40 years ago. It turns out that Nixon and Obama spoke about many similar topics in there speeches but often times very different things were going on having to do with these topics. Also it is important to keep in mind that these presidents’ views would likely differ on these topics even if they from the same time period because Nixon was a republican and Obama is a democrat. Three topics that I found that both Nixon and Obama spoke about were creating jobs, protecting the environment, and the ending of war and beginning of peace.

Obama had a lot to say about the need to create jobs, but one thing he said was “…the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises” (Obama 2014) This shows that it is important to him to create more jobs in order to help balance the budget. It seems, however, that the country was in a different situation, job and budget wise, when Nixon gave his state of the union address 40 years ago because he said: ” More than 2 1/2 million new jobs were created in the past year alone.” (Nixon 1974) This shows that at that time, it had been a recent goal to create more jobs but by the time the speech was given, that goal had been achieved.

Our country has clearly come a long way in the past 40 years when it comes to protecting the environment because in Nixon’s speech he says: “And for the first time ever, we have organized a massive national effort to protect the environment. Our air is getting cleaner, our water is getting purer, and our agriculture, which was depressed, is prospering” (Nixon 1974) And now that there have presumably been national efforts to protect the environment ever since, we have come so far as to  have significantly reduced our carbon footprint! “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.” (Obama 2014)

Finally, the two speeches clearly show how war and peace is constant cycle. A war ends and everything is peaceful for a time, but then there is another war. And this just keeps happening over and over. Nixon gave his 1974 state of the union address shortly after the end of the Vietnam war so things seemed peaceful at the time and Nixon was able to say: “Tonight, for the first time in 12 years, a President of the United States can report to the Congress on the state of a Union at peace with every nation of the world.” (Nixon, 1974) Now, America is almost at the end of a war with Afghanistan, so Obama said in his speech: “With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.” (Obama, 2014) This illustrates how there are always new wars ending leading to periods of peace, but then unfortunately there are almost always new wars that begin and this cycle will probably continue for along time unless something amazing happens.


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