This, President Obama’s final State of the Union, stands out as drastically different from the previous years’ speeches. The tone is also incredibly different from the campaigns that are currently going on to replace the president; the State of the Union was used by Obama to tout his legacy and remain hopeful for the future. President Obama’s last State of the Union address remained as powerful and impressive. He focuses on the future, but defines his legacy. Passionate and moving, Obama touched on numerous issues that will be key in the upcoming election.
President Obama started off with a nice Iowa-election joke and commentary about wanting to continue getting things done. Yet he did not go in-depth with what he wants to accomplish in one year, but instead addressed how he wants to see the future.
And boy when he got going, he really made his mark. It took some time (the first half was not the best start ever), but the ending of the speech hit hard. And it was vintage Obama, looking forward to a brighter future and progress.
He started off with four questions that he sees the country needing to answer: security and opportunity in the economy, technological advancement, American safety, and changing politics to better reflect the good in the country. President Obama himself offers answers, but this speech was meant as recognition of what has been accomplished, and how much more needs to be done. Certainly this speech was made with the idea that an election is upcoming; it was made to strengthen the Democrat position, which is tied together with his own legacy.
The major theme of the speech was change: a change he sees needing to happen, and a continuation of the changes he witnessed happen. The progress he sees does not come easy, and the rhetoric of today’s campaigners does not help. Multiple times throughout the speech he used thinly veiled attacks upon leading Republican candidates. He did not voice a laundry list of ideas like he had in previous State of the Union speeches; he did have some mixed into it, but they were not meant to be the big part.
President Obama showed his might and impressive stature when the issue of national security and safety came up. Not only did he strongly disagree with many people who believe that ISIL is the greatest threat to the United States of America, but also he tied in anecdotes and points that illustrate his position clearly. He agrees that ISIL represents a threat to safety of American citizens, but not that it represents a legitimate threat to the country as a whole. “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”
While talking about threats to national security, he also tied in a reaction that many leading Republican candidates had, and promptly refuted them. “When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong… And it betrays who we are as a country.”
For President Obama, this was a legacy defining moment, and it was meant to be. He was antagonistic against the people he thought deserved it, and supportive of the people and ideas he believes deserve it.
Not everything the president said is going to be accomplished, though the elimination of cancer, affordable college, and numerous other things are goals worthy of achieving. Just because not everything will be accomplished, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be attempted. Change is not hopeless and progress is not dead, but it will not happen on its own; those who act shape the future.
“[America is] Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people.”