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Partisans, Ideals, and Obama: State of the Union 2015

Last night President Obama issued the annual State of the Union Speech. The Constitutionally mandated speech is a recap of what has happened in the past little while and a look forward to the coming year. The severely grey-haired President seemed relaxed, poised, and ready for a fight. This speech seemed to be a remarkable blend of partisanism and idealism.

obama sotuFrom the start, he touted “we turn the page” starting with the good that has happened. Clocking in at around an hour, The speech contained many ideas, but effectively acted as a political stage. President Obama knows that working with a hostile Republican Congress will be difficult, but he came out aggressive and issued another good speech, as we are accustomed to hearing from him. President Obama listed ways he wishes to make America better, but also how far he thinks we have come.

“These ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families.  That is a fact.  And that’s what all of us – Republicans and Democrats alike – were sent here to do.” These ideas ranged from economic ideas about how companies can increase employment while increasing their exportations, childcare that will allow more families to work full-time to support themselves, environmental issues surrounding global warming both women’s and minimum wages, education, and more.

The President highlighted a few ideas that were partisan and hotly debated between liberals and conservatives. The most powerful moment of his speech came when he suggested raising the minimum wage. “To everyone in Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: if you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.”

A second partisan topic President Obama raised was the idea of vetoing anything he finds working against “middle-class economics”, highlighting health care, regulations of Wall Street, and immigration among others that would “earn my veto.” President Obama made it clear: he intends to move forward and stop anyone that he feels will move the country backwards.

scott kellyThe second main points of the speech focus on idealism — what he would like to accomplish over the year and the rest of his term. One point highlights a need for equality of opportunity: “The idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success – we want everyone to contribute to our success.” The President mentioned his plan for free community college and that he wants to work with Congress to alleviate the burden of student loan debt.

Another big part of President Obama’s idealism was a strong support for science and advancement. Highlighting a need to continue to advance, he mentioned the Precision Medicine Initiative, which he launched in hopes that it will bring the country closer to curing harmful diseases and make the country healthier. Another area of science he wants to continue is discovery.   He mentioned that last month a new spacecraft was launched with the hopes of one day landing someone on Mars. He also brought up Captain Scott Kelly, who would be spending a year in space.

The final part of President Obama’s idealism may be the most important, for it deals with the future world and generations. They are climate change and human dignity. The President touted many facts about climate change, “2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.  Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. “ The President urged Congress to take forceful action to stop the effects that the entire world is suffering. Along with preserving the world, President Obama wants to preserve the “dignity and worth of every citizen.” For the first time ever in a State of the Union speech, the words lesbian, bisexual, and transgender were used. He uses this rhetoric to advise for just action that stays within American values and protects many Americans who cannot protect themselves.

FT_Obama_SOTUAs always, there are some points in the speech that are more powerful than others. President Obama is a masterful user of rhetoric. However — love him or hate him — the most funny and memorable (’cause face it, will anyone remember what he said in a week?) was when he veered from his prompt. When he said, “I have no more campaigns to run,” there was some cheering from the Republican Congressmen. The President responded with “I know because I won both of them.”

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