On January 12th, 2016, President Obama delivered his eighth and final State of the Union address to the entire Congress, Vice President Joe Biden, recently elected speaker Paul Ryan, the Supreme Justices, and many other guests, some of whom were invited by the President and First Lady themselves.
The President began with this joke: “For this final one, I’m going to try make it a little shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa… I’ll be shaking some hands afterwards if you want some tips.”
President Obama broke from his traditional layout for the year ahead and proposed for time beyond his presidency, reasoning that change is rapid and is only accelerating, but added that Americans can keep up the pace as long as America doesn’t (in Lincoln’s words) “adhere to the dogmas of the quiet past.” He proposed four main points to the American people to be addressed regardless of who the future leaders will be.
His first goal is to find a method that would give every person a fair opportunity and security in the new, rapidly changing economy. Although the American economy is strong and durable, with the longest job creation streak in history, the growing wealth gap between the top 1% and the middle class offends the American belief that everyone who works hard should have a chance in the country. To solve this, he says that education-especially Pre-K and college-should be more accessible to Americans. In addition, he placed emphasis on the importance of social security, health care, and wage insurance-all of which have become more necessary due to increasing retirement and job loss rates.
His second goal dealt with technology. He made the daring proposal to make America the country to cure cancer and put Vice President Biden in charge of Mission Control. He also sought to move away from dirtier energy by transitioning to alternate energy resources to better reflect costs on taxpayers.
Third, he proposed how America can lead the world and keep it safe without policing it too much. In order to combat threats in the world, he said that terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda should be combated. President Obama said that such groups do not represent Islam, one of the world’s largest religions. He says “We just need to call them what they are: killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.” In order to accomplish that, he suggested that Congress take a vote to authorize military action against the groups. He urged other nations to work with America to make sure that they are able to pull their own weight in saving and improving lives.
Finally, President Obama asked how to make American politics reflect the best of America rather than the worst in the future. Taking a shot at Donald Trump, he said “This is not a matter of political correctness… The world respects us… for our diversity and our openness, and the way we respect everything. He added, “When politicians insult Muslims…It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. It betrays who we are as a country.” He suggested that parties and people should be willing to negotiate and argue easily so that countries are able to function efficiently.
Overall, the President declared that progress has been made and should not cease. He adds that in order to facilitate progress, it is best to help average Americans feel that everyone’s voice matters-not just the loudest. Now, as Obama nears the end of his term, many Americans are beginning to feel confident that the State of the Union is indeed, strong.