Opinion Special: State of the Union


The SOTU address sparked many different reactions from each side.

Josh Byrd and Aubtin Heydari

The Newsstreak staff is a politically diverse community with many different opinions. As such, two staff members recently submitted the following two stories from directly oppositional viewpoints. For your comparison and consideration:

From the left via Aubtin Heydari:

Obama’s State of the Union address was intriguing. Filled with formidable claims and an increased focus on income inequality, the President has set a new stage for his agenda for the coming year. Obama has made it clear he will prioritize domestic energy production, address wage gaps, promote the strengthening of welfare projects and work towards a productive diplomatic end to Iranian nuclear proliferation.

Without question, Obama has demonstrated his amazing skill as a rhetorician, going off script for most of the speech. Prototypical of Obama’s speeches is to feature examples of real people affected by the problems he seeks to address and the benefits of his policies. Last night was no different, yet the numerous ‘everyday people’ Obama brought up seemed to fit in differently to his speech. With an overarching theme of populism, Obama demonstrated a shift in his agenda to focus on the ‘common people’.

Income inequality has only exacerbated poverty in the US. Not only is there a wage gap, but there is still gender inequality, even with new laws attempting to address such disparities. His language was very strategic on the issue, framing the debate as one of opportunity and avoiding any discourse that could be perceived as distributism or class warfare by the right.

Furthermore, Obama’s speech was filled with very direct challenges to the GOP to actually put muscle behind their word. Nearly every point Obama made last night was backed up with a very specific line of action, either a proposed policy or an executive order. The media has been lambasting the Republican party for failing to propose any alternatives or policies to go along with their criticisms of Obama, and he capitalized on that failing in order to prove a point. Framing the issue as progress instead of regress, Obama made it clear he will compromise with Republicans if they actually have plans to address issues instead of just inaction and repealing.

You’d expect the Republican response to at least address this glaring inability to actually suggest real change, but sure enough, it was a vacuous rambling glorifying the stereotypical Republican values that most people are beginning to doubt are real in the first place. Three fourths of Congresswoman Cathy Rodgers rebuttal was a sloppy narrative of how she became successful without government help, followed by a short series of whines about big government and empowering ‘people not the government.’ Her speech, functionally,  proved the point that Republicans will wax poetic about their self-affirmed values without providing any valid plans of action. Partisanship aside, Rodgers rebuttal was truthfully an amazing display of the machine American political theatre has become; Congresspeople can mindlessly insert phrases like “limited government,” “handouts” and “God bless America” and have that cover up for a substance-less speech without any actual policy description.

From the right via Joshua Byrd:

“The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades,” Obama said. Then in less then three minutes, the President  attacked coal once again.

“Set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air,” Obama said. This isn’t a complete war just on coal, but it is going to make it harder for the fossil fuel industry by adding these new regulations.

Fossil fuels are a cheap and reliable source of energy, unlike solar and wind energy. Unlike oil, the US doesn’t have to import coal since the mainland has so much of it. In the state of Kentucky, coal provides 95 percent of the electricity. Kentucky also has the second lowest electricity rates. This all according to Kentucky coal education, and BURN an energy journal

President Obama talked about people paying their fair share and income inequality. The gap between the middle class and the upper class has been growing during his five years as president. So why does he want to deal with this now? Did it really take him five years to finally decide to deal with it?

The hour and five minute speech was nothing but President Obama saying he will act if congress doesn’t. The only things I liked from the speech were equal pay for women and his honoring of Cory Remsburg. Cory was almost killed while serving his country in Afghanistan.

I absolutely applaud the Republican rebuttal to the state of the union address. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers gave an excellent rebuttal and unlike President Obama’s speech, I could relate to what she said. She talked about working at a Mcdonalds drive thru to pay for college. I work at a fast food chain and that is going to help me pay for college. Her speech just made me feel good about being an American.

“A nation where we are not defined by our limits but by our potential,” McMorris said. “One that empowers you, not the government.” Republicans believe in personal responsibility, and they are hoping that the President will join them this year.

“We hope the President will join us in a year of real action by empowering people, not by making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes and fewer jobs,” McMorris said.

I believe if Republicans take this narrative to the 2014 midterm elections, they will get a bigger majority in the house and take back the senate. This is also due to the botched rollout of Obamacare and many of the President’s policies.Then if Republicans take back all of congress then President Obama’s agenda is finished unless he comes to the table a negotiates with them.

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