Obama began his speech by giving over a dozen examples of how he has helped people during his presidential term. He described how the economy is better under his leadership, and how the nation is better prepared to enter the future. However, after he fulfilled the obligatory self-congratulatory phase, Obama began to chastise certain parties in the chamber, saying “The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress…when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States — then we are not doing right by the American people.” Obama is, of course, referring to the role of Republicans in the recent government shutdown. The President is evidently dissatisfied with the Republican Party at this point in time, which could affect the relationship between the President and the Republican controlled Congress. Mr. Obama, after years of compromise, is finally ready to make his move. Mrs. Martinez, AP Government teacher, agrees, saying “It was a very aggressive State of the Union address that shows he is tired of compromise and he wants to get stuff done.” It’s about time.
Obama continued his speech by setting down his agenda; he wants “to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.” The President said in his speech that he plans to do this by encouraging “production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities.” and reforming “America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.” Lofty goals to be sure, if a bit vague. Still, that is only to be expected; the State of the Union is where Obama lays down his intentions and his general goals. All the legislation comes later on.
As for that legislation, the President might be able to enact it more easily than in years past. The Republicans have experienced a sharp increase in unpopularity in recent months due to the government shutdown and other events, which has made the House and the Senate more open to compromise. According to Julie Salido, “The Republicans have an agenda, but their opinions are less controversial than they were a before.” If Obama maneuvers the savannah of Congress carefully, he should be able to avoid stepping on the Elephant’s toes until his plans are enacted. However, only time will tell whether or not the President’s second term will be more productive than his first term; until then, we Americans just have to watch and wait.