This essay will focus on The State of the Union address.
The State of The Union is given annually by the president to the congress of the United States with the exception of a president’s first year in office. The purpose of the address is to inform on the state of the nation, the nations priorities, and provide a layout for the parties legislative agenda. The speech executes its rules connected in article 2, section 3 of the United States Constitution, which states that the president must give systematic updates on the “state of the union” and give his own insight on what could help. Over time, the State of the Union Address has evolved heavily with the invention and adoption of the radio and television by the American public, because of this, the state of the union address has been shown live throughout the U.
S. The focal point of this essay will be on The State of the Union address by Barack Hussein Obama II in 2011 and how this speech of his borrowed from other prominent orators throughout American political history, such as Woodrow Wilson, and Margaret Thatcher. Obama was both the first black president, and the 44th President of the United States after succeeding over George W. Bush in 2009, until his successor Donald J. Trump in 2017.Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2011 was widely panned as unengaging by a majority of political insiders and critics alike. This has been argued on the basis that a significant part of the speech had been lifted from numerous others given in American political history. Such examples include Obama’s reference to Woodrow Wilson’s famous quote of America being the “light to the world”.
His portrayal of the U.S as a light to the world had the profound effect of making it seem like the world should look to America for guidance, hope, and aspiration, and that its the U.S’s burden and responsibility to lead the world forward. Obama also referenced the ex-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in her 1991 speech in the U.S who stated that “no other nation has been built upon an idea.” This alludes to the fact that America unlike most other countries around the globe, being a generally speaking ‘new’ country, was based on a set of core values such as freedom, liberty, self government, equality, unity, diversity, and individualism. This is a result of their history, as they fought and revolted against the British for their independence, and based their revolution off of these ideals. These are honourable virtues and are not morally ambiguous, compared to other nations build upon monarchies and dictatorships.
There was also a reference to a “Sputnik Moment” which had been heavily channeled by the 34th President Dwight D.Eisenhower, referencing to the launch of the first ever earth orbiting satellite Sputnik 1 by the USSR in 1957, and this launch took the U.S completely by surprise. The event ignited the Space Race during the Cold War, and led to the USA successfully completing a human landing on the Moon in 1969. This “Sputnik moment” was a moment of realisation for the U.
S of how it must be ready to face new challenges and overcome them. In the context of the time, the challenge was the space race against the USSR, but in the context of Obama, the challenge was to recover from the 2008 market crash that decimated the U.S economy, as well as to realise and convey the message of the need to achieve universal health care in the form of the affordable care act that went into action a year prior to the speech.The honouring of “Ordinary Heroes” was heavily based upon the messages of the 40th President Ronald Reagan; this helps reinforce the message that the American people are strong, and resilient. This message came from a time where nuclear war was a very real possibility, that loomed over the citizens of the United States’s head every day, and as such the American people needed to be strong to overcome this. Obama adopted this message in a time of economic resurgence as stated before because of the major economic collapse in 2008 housing market crash, with many people still feeling the effects of the crash, the effects being high unemployment as well as massive debts being accumulated by both the government and the average citizen. This stressed the need for people to come together, and to be better. Obama also remarked that “I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth,” which bears a striking resemblance to JFK’s assertion that “I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation.
“. This gives the effect that the U.S is the best nation on earth, and that it is a privilege and honour to live in the United States. This fits in with the American dream that states that whoever you are regardless of origin, ethnicity, religion, age and sex you can come to America and find a better life, to become successful. This is so embedded in American culture that it stands in the form of one of the most recognisable monuments in the world, the statue of Liberty that says “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”