By Joe Suszczynski
On Feb. 12, President Obama gave his first State of the Union address of his second term. As an independent who voted for his speech was highly anticipated. This is Obama’s last term and many were curious to see how he would approach the current hot issues.
I had a hopeful, but cynical reaction to his speech. Obama declared that in the spring the United States will take a supporting role in Afghanistan letting Afghan security forces take charge and have all the troops brought home from Afghanistan by the end 2014. It is about time we withdraw the troops from Afghanistan. I have been questioning why we haven’t been withdrawing from Afghanistan en masse since Bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011. As much as I have been disappointed with that not happening when I wanted it to happen, it’s better late than never.
Obama also spoke on about what his plan was regarding the environment. The president has stated that the last 12 hottest years on record came in the last 15 years. Obama said:
“We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.”
A smile came across my face because he’s finally calling out the opposition to this issue and making it clear that he believes the science rather than calling it a hoax and that we should probably do something before something dreadful comes. And if that wasn’t good enough, he also threatened Congress with executive orders if they do not come up with anything worthy. Bravo to Obama for showing some spine towards the people who constantly oppose him.
Gun control, a very large topic, came up in his speech. He acknowledged that there were people who disagreed with him on the issue and has made it clear that it is their choice to disagree, but the issues being brought up “deserve a vote.” With a centrist position on gun control, I agree with his statement for the issues at hand do deserve a vote and the people should be able to speak their opinion regardless of what side they take.
One issue I did have in his speech was how he said he was keeping congress informed about his actions. According to Obama, he said he kept Congress: “fully informed of our efforts.”
On his show, comedian Jon Stewart said that members of Congress have requested memos on targeted killing with the use of drones 18 times since 2011. Whether or not you agree on the use of drones is another issue; but it is disingenuous of the president to say that he was keeping Congress “fully informed.”
As much as I feel good about the propositions that Obama made in his State of the Union, I can’t help but feel cynical. He has all these plans laid out, albeit briefly, and wants to see them have some sort of progress being made on them. The problem is that there are Republicans both in the house and senate who will not work with Obama under any circumstances. They will stonewall and filibuster everything that has either Obama’s or a Democrat’s name on it.
Republicans filibustered secretary of defense nominee, former Senator Chuck Hagel who was a Republican that was praised by his fellow colleagues at one time. So if the Republican Party is going to filibuster that, it makes one very pessimistic about the other propositions that Obama has made in this speech despite me supporting them.
It’s naïve to think that all of Obama’s promises made will be kept, but I’ll be satisfied with his dties as president if he keeps about half of them. No president can get a 100 percent of what they want; it’s just a fantasy to think that. But in the end Obama has made this statement clear:
“Let’s set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future.”
Issues on the whole should not be a party matter, but a public one.
Let us remember that politicians should work for us and not for the special interests groups or their own party for that matter. The voters put them in power and if they don’t live up to the expectations of the people, then it is the duty of the voters to take them out of office. Some politicians have to realize that doing the right thing sometimes might be going against what their party wants and with what the public wants.
I hope both parties can work together on the ideas and propositions that President Barack Obama laid out in front of them during his State of the Union speech.