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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Challenges For A Better Tomorrow - Obama's State of the Union

State of the Union addresses are often more about pomp and ceremony than substance.

Tonight, President Barrack Obama, transcended from a President seeking to establish his identity to a man who has forever made a mark on our Country and the World.

In a call to arms (in a figurative sense), President Obama asked that we regain our sense of hope, direction and national identity.  He asked that we shy away from our differences and focus on what makes us great.  He said: "From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future."

He spoke of changes in the World and how that should not discourage us but challenge us.  He said:
None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.
Innovation is part of our culture and it is something which we do best.  We face our challenges and we create.

But it is not only the challenge of a changing world which President Obama asked us to embrace but the challenges of restoring our economy to the greatest in the World.  For a nation which has faced an unprecedented recession, the President challenges us to identify and make the "right" decisions as to how to restore our Nation's economy.  “We have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in,” he said in the text of the speech released by the White House. “That is not sustainable.”

President Obama said:
I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure what we’re cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.
That challenge is particularly difficult in this time of recession.  More Americans have been impacted by this "great recession" than at any time since the Great Depression.  So the challenge is not simply to restore the economy but to protect those most vulnerable.  President Obama asked that we look out for our fellow man and make life better for all Americans.

President Obama spoke of the challenges facing our schools and our need to improve the quality of education for our children.  It is a daunting task but one that we can ill afford to ignore.  He outlined for us the challenges which we must overcome to make education in America great again and the steps which he has taken to right our path.

He spoke of our need to make math and science important again.  “We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time,” he said. “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.”

And in what President Obama does best, he spoke of the importance of recognizing that we are all Americans and that our differences are what make us great.  When speaking of our troops throughout the World he said:
Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.
It is that challenge to "leave behind the divisive battles of the past" which makes his message so important today.  He reminded us: "Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater - something more consequential than party or political preference."

Prominent progressive economist James Galbraith praises Obama’s speech.

"Overall, this is a terrific thematic speech. It sets out important goals, for the most part in the right areas: research, technology, infrastructure, education, jobs. The priority for clean energy is clear (though if the word "conservation" is mentioned, I missed it.) It speaks broadly of health care cost control, not narrowly of cuts to Medicare. It appears to support, or at least does not contradict, the emerging bipartisan consensus that Social Security benefits should not be cut. The weasel-word "entitlements" does not appear. It lends a word of support to some of the nation's most embattled public-sector employees - teachers. It is compassionate and sensible on immigrants and immigration. It defends the vital role of regulation in a market system. It does not waste many words on the deficit or the national debt or the fiscal commission."
It is a call to arms and challenge for all of us to find our commonality and discard our petty differences.  "We will move forward together or not at all."

In a time when there is so much discontent in the Country, it is President Obama's challenge to us to stand united that is his most important message.  Together we are far greater than any one of us.

So, accept his challenge of hope.  Accept his challenge of innovation.  Accept his challenge of humility.  Accept his challenge of One Nation, Indivisible and With Justice For All.  President Obama summed it up best:
"Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater - something more consequential than party or political preference."


  1. He is the the change we can believe in!

  2. I am for once proud to be american.

  3. I too loved his speech. Obama is staying true to his promise. He is a great leader and man. Jessica -Vermont

  4. Obama has hit his stride.

  5. He's right about what we need but the Republicans are still trying to balance the budget by reducing spending on education, R & D on renewable energy and upgrading the infrastructure. The worst thing for the economy. They will stop him in his tracks. At least in his speech he managed to coin some of those "catch phrases" (we have to "win the future") that are the things that stick in peoples' minds.

  6. "something more consequential than party or political preference"
    ...with this in mind, it's everyones responsibility to know about the issues.
    For example, while Universal Health Care sounds good, I've heard that many Naturpath physicans do not support Obama's plan as it favors the AMA and does not favor alternative forms of medicine...
    Is this true? I have no idea.
    But it reminds me that as much as I support Obama, I still have to be more informed on the issues - health care, education, etc.