Every State of the Union address given during an election year is a campaign speech; and this one was no exception. We’ll let others detail the specific ideas that the President has for the country. What struck us about the speech was the tone; and the stark contrast he projected as compared to his Republican opponents.
He was positive: “Think about an America within our reach; a country that leads the world in educating its people; an America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high paying jobs; a future where we are in control of our own energy; and our security and prosperity aren’t tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. We can do this. I know we can because we have done it before.”
He was assertive; expressing his willingness to work with anyone in the chamber: “But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. Let’s never forget. Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and financial system that does the same.”
He spoke of equity and fairness. Addressing his desire to reform the tax code he said: “Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense. We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it”
This was a positive speech about the future possibilities that await us if we all work together. It stands in stark contrast to the vitriol and negativity that we have witnessed throughout the Republican primaries. Ironically, much of this speech, if delivered by a Republican President, would have received the same standing ovations that the Democrats gave Obama. But that is a whole different subject.
Historically, State of the Union addresses do not have much effect on the on our politics. The days and weeks that immediately follow are far more important. Having used this speech to officially kick off his re-election campaign, the President will use those immediate days and weeks to make his case to the American people. $3 million new private sector jobs, GM’s return as the number one auto manufacturer in the world and the elimination of Osama bin Laden are good places to start.
If nothing else, the President accomplished one very important thing with his SOTU address. He gave the people a very clear choice come November.