Last night, the President gave an eloquent, sobering State of the Union address filled with direction for policy. What was more impressive was how he used what has become a tradition of tying invited members of the First Lady’s box to the policies he would like to have enacted.
The president touched on the economy, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, renewable energy, growing businesses and creating jobs. He touched on a lot in a very little time. And he brought it all around by infusing a very controversial topic in American culture, the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.
He highlighted a staggering number, saying “in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”
Whether our congressional members agree or disagree with the President, his statement on guns made me think of the moment in the movie “American President” where Mathew Sheppard played by Michael Douglass comes to the US Capitol and calls on Congress to vote on his environmental bill. It also made me think of the movie “The Contender” where the President played by Jeff Bridges stares down the Congress and challenges them to vote in front of him on his female nominee to fill the empty Vice President’s seat.
President Obama last night stared down the Congress and said in a real moment made for Hollywood,
“Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.”
The President using this moment to highlight the need to do something on the viscious cycle and culture of gun violence in America was right, they deserve a vote. And so do Americans who still cannot find a full time job, so do people like Desline Victor the 102 year old woman who stood in line in Florida trying to vote only to be told after waiting three hours to come back that evening.
Families that are living on the edge of poverty where raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour would change their quality of life deserve a vote. Employees of the federal government who will be affected if the looming sequester, that would make drastic cuts to government agencies, deserve a vote. Immigrants in this nation, deserve a vote.
As the President said even if you are going to vote no, they deserve a vote. In order to move this nation FORWARD past the divisions that keep our nation from being the greatest nation on the planet, it is important for the Congress to stop the bickering and division and vote on policies that can better our nation.
Our nation’s economy staggered longer than it needed to. Immigration reform has taken far too long to become a reality. The sequester looms ahead, simply because our Congressional members spend more time bickering instead of finding ways to reconcile their differences. If our last Congress was the most ineffective ever, than this one should seek to be the most effective ever, by simply voting on policies that will improve the quality of life for all Americans.
As the President said last night when beginning his speech, “John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress.”