State of the Union

Ah, the State of the Union.

It reminds me of a wedding in an uncomfortable family; some would like to scream when threatened to “forever hold their peace.” Some are texting. Some are whispering to the woman next to them. Some a crying; clapping; rapt.

John Boener looked at Obama like I used to look at my mother as a teenager – a mix between a smirk, constipation, the desire to burn his face of with eyeball rays, and morbid curiosity. I also loved when Lindsay Graham was caught clapping, looked up and saw the camera on him, and abruptly stopped and sat on his hands.

Obama’s tagline of the night also sounded vaguely reminiscent of Larry The Cable Guy’s catch phrase “Git ‘Er Done!” I winced each time Obama perfunctorily said “Let’s Get It Done” in a stiff monotone. He didn’t sound very excited. To extend the matrimonial metaphor, it was like a homily downloaded from the internet at a wedding full of DIY crafts; the insincere stands out.

Awkward body language & flat phrasing aside, here are my thoughts & questions on tonight’s State of the Union. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington

Specific ideas I love the sound of:

Raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

Create more jobs around clean energy and cut our energy waste in half over the next twenty years.

 

Concepts I love, but which still feel too sweeping:

AIDS-Free Generation. GREAT. Yes. 100%. How?

Stronger Families – that sounds great. “What makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child, but having the courage to raise one. We want to help that. We want to support that.” OK – that sounds absolutely fantastic. Um, how?

Immigration Reform – he was kind of bombastic here. “Write up immigration reform and send it to me! I’ll pass it in the next few months!” He discussed a “responsible pathway to citizenship,” and that it would include shrinking waiting periods; learning English, taking tests, paying taxes & a penalty, and getting to the back of the line behind those trying to come here legally. I don’t know why this still felt murky to me, but it did . . .

 

Great Line I Liked

“Our government shouldn’t make promises it can’t keep – but it must keep the promises it has already made.”

 

Best Passive-Aggressive Shade

“We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.”

 

Best Closeup

Desaline – 102 year old lady voter who refused to be turned away from the polls.

 

Education

Creating a national program for early childhood education would be incredible – I’m skeptical, but it would truly make a tremendous difference, I believe.

I also love the idea of creating a clearer pipeline between primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges – the notion of K-16 partnerships is a fantastic one, and organizations like PHENND – which I’m kind of obsessed with – are already doing incredible work to codify these connections. But why does that mean that we have to only focus on technology, math, and science? I understand this is “where the jobs are,” but what about the social sciences? Aren’t those necessary, too? If the Industrial Revolution created phalanxes of factory workers, I feel like we’re creating armies of robots who will fix computers and have an allergy to books and hate things like talking and humans.

 

Big Questions

1.) Was anything concrete said/proposed about equality for the LGBTQ community?

2.) The ending piece about the gun violence, and all those “deserve a vote,” was very powerful – but I feel mightily confused. Is Congress blocking votes on gun control proposals?? Why do I not know this? How are they preventing it? What!?

 

Let me hear your thoughts!

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