President Obama Presents 21st Century Agenda

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[The View From Washington]

Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution states, of the president “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.."

President Obama gave the second State of the Union Address of his administration this past Tuesday.

Different elements of the electorate were looking for the president to speak to their specific interests.  Some liberals wanted the president to speak to government matching 401(k) contributions in order to promote saving; others wanted him to speak to gay rights legislation; a ban on large gun clips, or deep cuts in the defense budget. This was a slightly different speech designed to address a different set of problems.

Other presidents have been able to make sweeping policy initiatives about how they intend to guide the country for the next year. Unlike most of his predecessors President Obama is faced with an ideologically driven opposition that has made their intention to oppose him at every turn crystal clear.  He is also facing a historic shift in technological and global economic realities that has forever changed the world as we have come to know it.  This is why the speech was entitled Wining the Future.

Even though some policy initiatives were proposed, President Obama had another objective to accomplish. Faced with a Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who’s stated objective for the next two years is not working in the best interest of the American people but is repealing health care reform and defeating President Obama in 2012 and a Senator Jim DiMint (R-SC) who sees the defeat of Health Care Reform as “Obama’s Waterloo”, President Obama had to set a clear tone focused on working together as Americans not party partisans.  

The President stated, “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.”

The world in which we live is changing.  Advances in technology have changed the rules of engagement within one generation.  President Obama stated, “… revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an internet connection.”

Amidst this reality President Obama, a very forward looking visionary leader is engaged in battles with individuals like Senator John McCain who told the New York Times that he does not know how to use the Internet, “He (McCain) said, ruefully, that he had not mastered how to use the Internet and relied on his wife and aides … to get him online to read newspapers (though he prefers reading those the old-fashioned way) and political Web sites and blogs.”  It is difficult to move forward while dragging your opposition into the 21st century.

The speech did have its flaws; a few things that he failed to mention. The president did not mention any targeted programs to assist the poor in America and the long-term or chronically unemployed. As unpopular as it may be, along with providing health care for the uninsured, providing education and job training for the least of us will prove to be a benefit for all of us. He did not take the opportunity to acknowledge the innocent civilians who died in the Russian airport bombing and call for greater international cooperation to insure the rights of all oppressed people in the world.

President Obama set more of a tone than an agenda.  He’s correct, “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.”

In order for America to win the future it must discard it’s baggage of the past.  The paradigm has changed and America must adapt. Conservatives must stop being the party of opposition and become the party of alternatives.

At the same time the Democrats can not be afraid to lead.  They must take control of the narrative and clearly articulate to the American people more than ideas about winning the future; they must articulate a plan and explain how the future will be won.  Dr. King said, “Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” 

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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