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On Tuesday night, President Obama stood upon the national stage for his seventh and final State of the Union address. With the same eloquence that has characterized his speeches throughout his time in office, the president shared his optimistic view of the future of the nation while also addressing current issues ranging from gun control to the war on terror.
However, rather than list the specific actions he plans to take in the upcoming year to address these problems, Obama focused on the more fundamental changes that must be made if the nation is going to continue to progress.
Most notably, the president made a plea for a collective effort to fix what many view as a broken political system. Going beyond calling for an end to the political polarization that has plagued his time in office, Obama asserted that practices such as gerrymandering and the disproportionate influence of money in politics must come to an end. According to Obama, the nation must make internal adjustments such as these if it is going to retain its dominant position on the global stage.
As the leader of a dynamic and globalized world, America must embrace change rather than fear it. Though he was speaking about the transition to clean energy at the time, Obama captured this sentiment by stating that “rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”
In other words, America has immense potential in the modern age, but none of it can be realized if it does not reform itself to the realities of the modern world. Perhaps the most fundamental change to be made is reviving Americans’ ability to put their differences aside and come to an agreement about the things that must be done for the collective good of the nation.
Whether you’re a strong Obama supporter, or you think he’s made seven State of the Union addresses too many, it is hard to argue that our current political system is anything but broken. The problems that exist cannot be solved by one person alone, as Obama boldly pointed out. There must be a collective push to reform our democracy in a way that works best for all Americans, so that we can continue to lead the world toward a brighter future.
No matter who takes the podium in the next State of the Union address, the chances of that person being an effective president are minimal if changes are not made to the current political system. The progress of the nation depends upon the ability of Americans, whether they are members of Congress or just average citizens, to move past the current political polarization that has bred the worst government gridlock in U.S. history.
Obama concluded his final State of the Union address by stating, “I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people. And that’s why I stand here, as confident that I have always been, that the state of our union is strong.”
It is now up to us to prove him right.