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From the Right: The State of our Union

TNH Columnist

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 01:01

Tuesday night President Barack Obama will fulfill a constitutional duty and deliver his State of the Union Address. Certainly, the president will declare triumphantly, no doubt, that the state of our union is strong.

Let there be no doubts: America is still a vibrant nation despite five years of economic hardships, so it’ll take a lot more than a bad economy to bring America down. Nevertheless, while our union is strong, the rhetoric that the president will offer will be redundant. He’ll try a moderate, optimistic tone while scolding Republicans and offering a vision for the country over the next year. The media is spinning 2014 as the year of action, a time when Congress and the president will finally tackle the big issues such as immigration reform. The media is also jumping on the bandwagon that the State of the Union speech will be the president’s chance to turn around his failing presidency. 

Normally I might be inclined to agree with the media’s analysis. This president is well-spoken and in the past has managed to free himself from the tightest corner, all with a soaring speech. However, after five years, a close reelection campaign and continuous Bush-bashing, I think this president is out of luck. In his speech he will without question call for more, not less, government and that will put him at odds with the prevailing thought of the time. 

In a recent ABC News poll 46 percent of respondents said they favor the Republican Party’s approach on how best to handle the size of government over the Democrats’ approach. That right there spells trouble for the president.

Republicans plan to capitalize on the size of government issue, making the 2014 midterm elections in November a real migraine for the Democrats. Look at the healthcare rollout, the NSA spying scandal, more people living in poverty, income inequality, a broken immigration system, and so on and so forth. There are big problems in our country today and there are millions of Americans out of work and/or who have completely given up. These are challenges that confound other nations, but not the United States. We’ve never stood for second best and there is no reason to start accepting that status now. 

The problems combating America are unbeatable by government alone and that is the mistake this president and many in the Democratic Party have made over the past five years. A belief that if money is simply chucked at a problem everything will be resolved is laughable and sad. We have a great tendency to overthink the challenges and problems facing the country. We turn to government and compile our creative will and energy into solving the issue and ironically end up making it worse. 

The audacious President Obama, one that millions voted for in 2008 and some reluctantly in 2012, will take the stage Tuesday night and issue a bold statement, one similar to his very beloved predecessor, Bill Clinton, “We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there’s not a program for every problem. We know, and we have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means. The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves.”

Bill Clinton was then and is now the politician Barack Obama will never be. Tuesday night, Barack Obama will return to the same rhetoric of the past which includes swipes at the so-called obstructionist Republicans in Congress, and how the be-all-end-all for America’s woes is more government, and while there are glitches, (i.e. the healthcare roll out) trust me and trust government. 

Contrary to the perception often applied to all Republicans, I am not opposed to government. Government can work and it has worked. The problem today is the solutions aimed at healing the country’s wounds are all government created. What must exist in Washington today is exactly what Bill Clinton called for in his 1996 state of the union address: a government of limited means, an end to vast centralization and a return to balance budgets, an end to a bloated establishment and a return to one that spends what it takes in.

As Clinton went on further to say in his address, “We must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues we must have both.”

Our society today calls not on a government aimed at holding our hand from cradle to crypt, or a government that lets us drift in the wind without control. The society today calls for an effective partnership between the public and private sector. An equal balance and an acknowledgment that there exists challenges that only government can address and there exist challenges that only the private sector can address.

I only wish that tonight President Obama would echo what I have just espoused, but alas, I already fear that it will not be the case.

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