Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do Rising Tides Float All Boats? A #SOTU Review.

So I reached 15,000 tweets. Time for some political talk.

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation regarding the State of The Union. I've only started paying attention to these when I reached voting age, even though my pops made me watch them religiously when I was a child. He was a tyrant, usually something awesome would be on at the same time, and I'd be missing it, then I'd be left out of the conversations the next day at school.


I never watch the State of The Union when everyone else does. I'm visual, I need to see the words, so I wait on the transcript to come out and then read it while I listen. Yes, I'm weird, but we are supposed to appreciate all differences in Obama's America, my friends.

But, before I begin, shoutout to Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Homegirl got shot in the head by a domestic terrorist in 2011, and is well on the way to recovering. She's recently decided to step down from her position as a Congressional representative in order to focus on her recovery. Godspeed to her.

President Obama looks like he wanted to bring some heat in this address, and looking at the ire he's rankled among his opposition, he brought it.
"I intend to fight obstruction with action," the President said, "and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place."
Swag. President Obama laid down a solid address, built upon a foundation of patriotism and keeping the momentum that was ramping up at the end of 2011. What really drew the most vitriol from his dissenters (mostly republican) is the mere mention of the dreaded Buffett Rule, a tax plan that would raise the minimum tax rate on earned income for the top 1% of earners in America. He drew on tried and true populist and patriotic rhetoric to call for a return to core American values, with an emphasis on American workers, manufacturing, keeping American industry in America, and homegrown, clean energy.

The address, which comes in the middle of a heated 2012 presidential race, really focused on the President's fight for the middle class, which is a sound strategy in my book. Something that I can definitely relate to, he called for universities nationwide to lower tuition as part of a measure to make college more affordable for everyone, or see a hit from taxpayers. On education, he made remarks about removing low performing teachers while rewarding the ones doing a good job, while "giving schools the resources to keep good teachers on the job".

There was also a whisper to end the "drill and kill" test culture that arose in American schools as a result of No Child Left Behind. HOWEVER The President is, in my opinion, entirely too lackluster on the topic of education. Even the education portion of the speech seemed an allusion, an afterthought overshadowed by the far more important monsters of Economy and Defense. While I agree that the health and healing of our economy is probably the foremost issue facing America now and in the future, Education is right behind it in importance. Work skills for Americans, hell, any skills for Americans are learned mostly in school.

The familiar refrain in this year's State of The Union: American values driving the Economic Recovery. Even cuts on defense will be used to push the President's economic plan. This was a State of The Union Address very much colored by the fact that November is pretty much around the corner, and we see it in all the topics addressed. The real thing that I wonder is this: President Obama's early campaign was marred by his complete inability to be an effective leader and fulfill his political promises. While Congress shoulders much of that blame, The President and his party do as well. A passive centrist type of political leadership and policy recommendation is actually *not* what I voted for in 2008. So:

1.) Does President Obama Mean What he's saying? Or are these just campaign promises to be forgotten/half-heartedly referred to later?

and 2.) How will he take the fight to opposition, politicians who are DETERMINED to thwart his every policy move and incorrectly analyze his political ones. Will we see more of the "hey guys, let's work this out" President Obama, or will we get a battle-hardened "Sit down, STFU, and let's get this country together President Obama?

Only November will tell. Only YOUR votes will tell.

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