Tag Archives: state of the union

SOTU – Polarized, Gridlock

State of the Union - Standard Speech

My proposed template for all future State-of-the-Union speeches, and opposition party responses.

Last night, as our POTUS gave the SOTU with the FLOTUS and SCOTUS present, a few thoughts crossed my mind.  First…The State of the Union address happens once a year.  I’m not sure it’s THAT common of a concept in most people’s minds that they see “SOTU” in the headlines and realize what the hell the story is going to talk about.  Hey, I work for the government.  We’re acronym loonies.  But enough with the SOTU headlines, just freakin’ spell it out.

My second thought was…is a speech like this REALLY focusing on the “State of the Union”?  Or, is it more a political stump speech for the next election?  It’s ALWAYS the latter more than the former, but even more so in an election year.  I couldn’t stomach either the speech itself for very long, or the Mitch Daniels GOP “response”.

What bugs the hell out of me…why does there NEED to be a “response” from the “other” party after a State of the Union address?   For an event that’s supposed to bring Americans together to focus on the primary issues affecting or nation, why instead has it become an event that even further strengthens the intense polarization that typifies American politics?  In the State of the Union, the President at least has to give SOME appearance that he’s outlining a path forward for our country, that Americans as a whole need to come together to solve our problems.  For the “other” party response?  As with other opposition party responses in the past, Mitch Daniels might as well have just issued a short statement…”Obama sucks, vote Republican in November”.

Not exactly a Lou Holtz type of speech to motivate the team.  The State of the Union evening has become just one more night of campaigning for both Democrats and Republicans.  There is no attempt from either side to realistically discuss bridging the gaps between the “two” sides.  Because of course, there ARE just two types of Americans…Democrats, and Republicans, an oil-and-water combo that can NEVER mix.  Instead of a night that uplifts the spirits of the American people, where we discuss our Nation’s accomplishments and path forward, it’s become a depressing night where each side tries to out-do each other in blaming the other, where the state-of-the-union is NEVER good, and it’s ALWAYS the other party’s fault for CAUSING such a sucky state of affairs.

The thunderous applause for Gabrielle Giffords was a nice moment.  That’s about what it takes for Democrats or Republicans to work together or even talk to each other…a near-death experience.  Even that isn’t above the depressing political rhetoric though, given the AMPLE stories this week from John Boehner and others, touting the chances of Republicans taking the seat from Giffords in an upcoming special election. 

I propose we replace the State of the Union speech and response with a simple press release.  “State of the Union – Gridlock in Washington, Political Partisanship Increasing – Public Following Politicians’ Example and Becoming More Polarized”.   Three little phrases, phrases that for all intents and purposes, provide the same message as  provided by the president’s State of the Union speech and the opposition party’s response.   We’d save millions in taxpayer $$$$, as the same wording, the same press release materials, could be distributed year, after year, after year, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.  A depressing message to be reiterated every year, sure…but no more depressing than watching the current slate of speeches on State of the Union night.