Response to the 2012 State of the Union

I finally took the time this weekend to watch Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address (Full Text.) I am becoming increasingly convinced that I need to stay up with current affairs, that it pays to know what is happening, and that there is still room for political movement, even with all of the frustration that the people living in this country have felt with the nation’s political system in the past few years, as the Occupy Movement members demonstrated so clearly in the past few months. Basically, what you’re getting here is my reaction to points he made that I felt strongly about. If you’re not down with the politics, skip it. If you care, leave me a comment; I’d love to have a discussion about these things:

I felt frustrated with some of Obama’s rhetoric about education. He’s got some pretty words to give us, but how do you find good teachers to replace the ones who are fired because they are deemed not good enough. What standards will be used for this? How is he going to keep students in high school until they’re 18? As to his comment, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down”, how does that make sense for states like California that are burdened with debt. The reasons for California’s exponentially rising tuition rates aren’t going to disappear because you withdraw federal funding from them. There are more issues there, but really, how is that proposal going to help?

I’m glad that Obama talked about dealing with immigration reform, and hope that he is able to do this in a way that does not break up families, like the ones I work with. Though I don’t know any hard statistics, I know that they aren’t all legally here. Yet their kids may be citizens, or, at least, some of them are. How do you take care of these families when deportations are so high and border control has been extended?

Two cheers for the idea of exploring energy alternatives, but why tack this one after talking about how it’s such a good thing that our home land oil production is up? Obama talked a lot about energy and transportation, unveiling his plan to invest in “nation-building at home” and paying down the debt. Why not put more toward paying down the debt so we can get closer to that ever elusive balanced budget?

I’m surprised that he didn’t talk more about his health care reform. It’s hailed as the most monumental shift in politics that has happened under his care, but he swept it under the rug. He hardly touched on it before moving on to taxes. Regardless of the technicalities of those reforms, there’s still a high need to get the nation healthier. I would’ve loved to hear more about what actions can be taken on a national level to promote healthier living from birth to death. But no, no mention of the “Let’s Move” campaign or the fact that pizza is now apparently a vegetable.

Though it’s classic rhetorical procedure to use quotes from favored leaders, Obama’s, “I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more” rang empty for me. It’s such a vague statement that adds nothing, except a plea for people to associate Obama more closely with the positive opinion most lay individuals hold of the 16th president. In his speech, Obama touched on all the issues he could, trying to make connections with every group and individual who might be listening. He appealed to the sense of common man by sharing individuals’ stories, mixed with stats. He rejected the idea that America is in decline, but to me, this too does not correspond with my conception. It’s election year, Mr. President, and while you’re got some pretty words to share, the fact is that you’ve got a hard job in hard times, and much as i think you’ve got some good things thrown in with the literary fluff, these next few months will hold quite the challenge for you, and all your opponents who are fighting for the chance to speak as the President of the United States in January 2013.