Last night was the speech we have all been waiting for: Obama’s LAST State of the Union Address.  At 9:00PM last night, Obama took the stage in the House Chamber of the US Capitol Building and delivered his last State of the Union Address. In case you missed it, here is what you need to know.

For the first time, new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took his seat behind President Obama, replacing John Boehner.  Of course, there were many guests at the event, invited by the First Family and Congress members alike. Some of these guests include Muslim-Americans, a Syrian refugee, the first female commandant of West Point, Kim Davis, and Coach Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan.  The First Lady, Michelle Obama, announced that one seat in her box would be left empty to represent “the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice.” No word on if she left an empty seat for the victims of abortion who were never given the chance to have a voice.

1

President Obama began his speech with a joke, stating that he would make his speech short so that people “could get back to Iowa.”  He openly acknowledged that very few things will get down in this election year, and expressed his hopes that he and Speaker Ryan could work together to achieve some bipartisan action.

President Obama changed up the usual laundry list tactics, but instead he would still work to fix our “broken immigration system”, raise the minimum wage, and save children from gun violence.

Obama’s last address to the chamber was not focused solely on the next year, but on the future as well, including five and ten years ahead.

2

He posed four big questions that he wanted to address in his speech, and see answered in the future.

  1. How do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity in this new economy?

  2. How do we make technology work for us, not against us, especially climate change?

  3. How do we keep American safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

  4. How can we make our politics reflect what is best in us, not what is worst?

One of my favorite lines from the night was in his answer to question one, where he stated, “Anyone who says that America’s economy is declining is peddling fiction.”

As we all know, there are some things that all Americans, left and right, agree on, such as the need for education to ensure success.  Obama reiterated that, and expressed intention to provide free Pre-K, support for teachers, making college affordable, and more computer-technology classes.

President Obama stated his intent to fight to provide two years of free community college for hard-working students, though expressed no way to pay for that free college, or how he would determine who was “hard-working” and who wasn’t.

After some reflection on the Space Wars with Russia in the 20th century, President Obama announced a renewed national effort to find the cure for cancer, which follows the work of Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health greater resources to do just that.

President Obama then proceeded to mock anyone who might disagree with his views on climate change, which he seems to forget includes many, many reputable scientists across the globe. He championed new energy sources, asking, “Why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” He did not address fracking, which would truly help us harness the energy of the future.

3

From there, President Obama transitioned into talking about National Security, where he stated that our number one priority is “protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks.”  He called for Congress to authorize the use of military force against ISIL He reiterated something we already knew was true: “We can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis.”

The final segment of the address turned to the Constitution, specifically the first three words: We The People.  The President said that his most important point of the night was the need to fix our politics. He hinted at bitter partisan disagreement and called for comprise, and criticized the “extreme voices”, which was his thinly veiled hit at Donald Trump, no doubt.

Obama ended with a call to the citizens to be just that, citizens. Go vote. Speak up. Go vote! That cannot be stressed enough. Whether you love President Obama, hate him, or are just ready to see a new face on your screen during the State of the Union, go out and vote. Your voice matters. Your vote matters.

At the end of the day, Obama made a lot of grand promises and proposals. He could make such bold, and frankly unattainable in his tenure, because he knows that everyone has extremely low expectations of his final year in office. Frankly, we are all eager to see him go, no matter who we are looking to put in is seat next year.  Instead of stating new things he wanted to accomplish, Obama listed everything he hadn’t accomplished that he had previously promised to, and declared his intention to try and do it before the end of his tenure as President. Only time will tell.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gave this year’s Response to the State of the Union. However, she chose to call it the “GOP Address” not the “GOP Response.” In the days leading up to the address, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had the audacity to say Governor Haley was chosen because the GOP has a “diversity problem.” Clearly, she keeps her head in the sand since Governor Haley is a rising star in the GOP, the youngest Governor in the country and one of the leading picks for the Vice Presidential nomination. Her gender and ethnicity had nothing to do with her selection.

4

In her address, Governor Haley first turned to President Obama himself.  She voiced what we all have been thinking for seven years: Obama’s actions fall short of his eloquent words.

She then turned to the new direction that the United States will be taking after Obama leaves office.  People are frustrated with the government, and Governor Haley knows that firsthand.   She reflected on her upbringing as the daughter of Indian immigrants in rural South Carolina, and tied it to American dream we all seek.

She also called on us to resist the siren calls and extreme voices that make so many citizens feel unwelcome. She reiterated the need to secure our borders, stopping illegal immigrants, and welcoming with open arms properly vetted immigrants who come here legally.

She reflected on the horrific Charleston shootings this past June, and how her state came together after the tragedy. She talked of vigils, not violence, and hugs, not riots.

“Some people think you need to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference.” Governor Haley said it best, and called for turning the volume down, so that we can truly hear what is being said and decide what is best for our country.

She spoke beautifully of what would happen if a Republican took over the White House, and it is what we all want: lower taxes, a better healthcare program, respect, religious liberty, and respect for the Constitution and ALL of its amendments, including the 2nd and the 10th.

Governor Haley’s response was eloquently spoken, beautifully moving, and in my opinion, far more promising than anything Obama said in his hour-long speech. Governor Haley spoke of our future, a believable future, and one that we can see. She did not make grand promises she could not keep. Instead, she spoke of the great future we can expect if, no, when a Republican wins the presidency this November.

5

If you missed the State of the Union and are still concerned about the state of our union, you can rewatch the address here  or read the full text here</a>.  You can read Governor Haley’s response here

AryssaBadge