Wednesday, January 13, 2016

President Obama's Last State of the Union Address

Wow!! Last night, a miracle occurred! President Obama said something that I actually and wholeheartedly agree on:

We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong… When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

As a nation, and as a people, we are currently faced with a large number of challenges. Our forefathers also faced challenges, some very similar while others were radically different. We still have enemies who wish to crush us – just different ones over time. We learned that survival depended upon working together. As Benjamin Franklyn said as he signed the Declaration of Independence, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." This we enshrined in our Constitution. President Obama, later in his address:

Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some; words that insist we rise and fall together.

Those words which begin the Constitution are "We the people".

We, in many ways, behave like a big dysfunctional family. We have our competing interests and needs. We have different likes, dislikes and view points. We argue among ourselves incessantly. But, we also agree on much more than we disagree on. We need to focus on the areas of agreement and downplay the areas of disagreement. It is hard to accomplish goals when we are arguing – but, such is the nature of politics. President Obama, attempting to push our politicians to work together and compromise to accomplish mutual goals, continued:

It will only happen if we fix our politics.

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

Too many Americans feel that way right now.

If we are to flourish as a nation, we must raise the level of trust. Politicians must avoid rhetoric which divides us and propose ways to compromise and work together. Politicians need to rebuild the level of trust between them and those who elect them. They must rise to the level of statesmen, not wallow in the pigsty of political hacks.
Copyright 2016 Jalapeño Bob

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