For an important national event that happens every year, the State of the Union address is a very complicated pageant of both social and political agendas. Understanding what the heck is going on sometimes can be complicated so below is an explanation of many critical aspects of this year’s speech.
- The Speech – The constitution says that the president should give congress a yearly update on the perceived state of the country. This could have been interpreted in a number of ways but as is common with many presidential events, it is largely traditional now. The acting President of the United States either delivers a letter or a live speech to the members of congress and many special guests. This speech discusses how the president sees the country now and where he sees it going. Often it is laced with the President’s political agenda and goals for the coming year. This year, President Barack Obama’s last speech tackled four main topics: opportunity in America (the economy), technology (innovation and freedom), security (ISIS, Gun control, and the armed forces), and democracy (working for bipartisanship). By any standards this year’s speech was very short, but between these main points Obama was also able to get in a few jabs about certain Republican Candidates.
- Attendance is Key – Hundreds of the most important people in Washington D.C. all attend the event; the joint chiefs of staff, supreme court, and congressmen are all present. Intentionally however, one member of the cabinet is kept in a secure location in case there is a disaster and he or she must step in as acting president. Also many important figures are invited by both main political parties. This year Kim Davis, the woman from Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples was there. Looking at the guests at the State of the Union address can almost be as informative as the speech its self.
- The Rebuttal – After each State of the Union Address, the opposing political party has the opportunity to issue a response to the President’s speech. It usually outlines the other party’s vision for America and their goals for the upcoming year. This year it was delivered by Nikki Haley the governor of South Carolina (some consider her to be likely to be chosen as a running mate for one of the Republican Presidential candidates). She outlined what she believed were flaws in Obama’s leadership this past year and outlined the Republican goals for 2016.
I hope you enjoyed this short summary of the State of the Union and if you have any questions please comment below!