President Obama delivered a dazzling display of moral and political leadership during his final State Of The Union address.
President Obama laid out some hardcore progressive reality, “I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts. In this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.”
This address was not a victory lap. It was not a desperate last minute laundry list. The best way to describe Obama’s final State Of The Union is to view his address as a tonic for the partisan bitterness and negativity that has consumed our politics.
President Obama appealed to the American spirit of adventure and innovation, “That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world. And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.”
Obama announced that he is putting Vice President Biden in charge of a new ambitious moonshot to cure cancer, “But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”
President Obama delivered an address for the ages. He demonstrated the strength against terrorism that has been visible since he gave the okay to take out Bin Laden, “But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they are – killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.”
Obama even name dropped Bin Laden and other terrorists who came after Americans. The President said, “If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.”
President Obama has been everything that George W. Bush and the Republican Party would not be. Obama’s address showed the strength and leadership that has made him the nation’s rock in the White House. Instead of taking a victory, Barack Obama laid out a comprehensive vision and approach that was a better campaign ad for Democrats than any candidate could cut.
Obama’s greatest achievement is that he has changed an entire country. Obama has expanded healthcare, rebuilt the economy, kept the country safe from terrorism, and promoted a new era of civil rights and equality.
Obama called for better redistricting laws and getting the dark money out of politics, “We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections – and if our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution. We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.”
As the country prepares to elect a new president, it owes a debt to Barack Obama. President Obama has shown the country what real leadership both moral and political looks like.
Things came full circle from his 2008 campaign as Obama closed by saying, “Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”
If Donald Trump and the Republican Party appeal to the worst in America’s nature, Obama appeals to our better angels.
The contrast has never been clearer than during this president’s final State Of The Union.
Nearly eight years later, hope and change remains alive and well.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association