Remember when Obama first stepped onto the podium, ready to deliver his first (kind of) State of Union address, in 2009? He stepped into office with plenty of issues thrown on his hands; rapid inflation, rising unemployment rates, and a real estate bubble that had been burst by a series of bad loans to citizens who couldn’t afford them. Not to mention, an unpopular war in Iraq, which grew increasingly unpopular as time progressed. With these major issues looming above his administration, it was only natural that he would address these issues for despondent Americans affected by the recession of 2008 – those who had been laid off, who couldn’t afford a mortgage, who made bank loans that they couldn’t afford. In 2009, most Americans were not proud of the slump their country was in – they looked to Obama for a beacon of hope, and that was exactly what Obama wanted to deliver in his State of Union address in 2009. Hope.
Giving hope to Americans was the main goal for Obama in 2009. One of the quotes that stood out the most to me in his 2009 address was, “… we will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.” He spoke of reviving the American economy, of recovering the great nation that America used to be, and of extending the opportunity of education to all corners of the United States. America’s education in 2009 was bleak, and according to his speech, the United States at the time had one of the highest high school dropout rates in the globe, and that half of the students who began college never finished pursuing their degree. One of the most important key parts to a thriving economy, he said, was education. Yes, the State of the Union in 2009 looked more towards the future – and the State of the Union address provided what Americans at the time needed the most at the time – hope.
Fast forward to Obama’s State of the Union address in 2014. What had he accomplished throughout the span of his administration? The rising unemployment rate in 2009 had finally been defeated – in 2014, Obama stated that America had the lowest unemployment rate in over five years, and that eight million new jobs had been created. Finally, we have surpassed the economic slump that held the country down in 2009 – now, in 2014, America was the best country to invest in, not China. And education? Obama confessed that more Americans are earning college degrees than ever before. Thirty states had improved their preschool education, working towards Obama’s high goals for early education. After all, “best investment in a child’s life is to give them access to high quality early education”, and in 2014, America is doing just that. While there are many more young children to reach, and many more to give the opportunity to succeed in America, Obama’s tone in this State of the Union proves to be much more optimistic than his speech delivered in 2009. Instead of looking towards the future like he did in 2009, his speech was focused on our present lives – and what he was doing to improve it.
Obama’s (kind of) 2009 State of the Union Address:
Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address: