IN his last State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama has called for better politics based on trust that will ensure the country’s goals of security, a rising standard of living and a peaceful planet are reached.
In a speech nuanced on his legacy, he appealed for a better politics based on greater trust while admitting that one of his biggest regrets as President was that suspicion between the two major parties had gotten worse.
However, he is also known to have touted the improved economy, the nuclear deal with Iran and better relations with Cuba and the landmark Climate Change deal as proof of an America on the rise.
It was speech aimed at political reconciliation while subtly touting the administration’s successes. But in a shift, this was a President who was willing to admit failure from the hey-days of his campaign promising to shift the dynamics of a broken system in Washington.
About this Obama says, “Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There is no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”
In his primetime address, President Obama sought to paint an optimistic future of the country – touting its unrivaled military strength, its improved international standing and its economic recovery – calling America the strongest, most durable economy in the world.
“We are in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters. Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”
He cited the country’s flair for innovation, castigated Climate Change deniers while appealing directly to Americans to reject the politics of polarization; whether on the question of Muslims or regional geo-politics. “Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo.”
The speech was a departure from the usual list of policy proposals, seeking rather to rally Americans around a common cause. This is exemplified by Obama saying, “So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.”