I did not watch the 2015 State of the Union Address, nor the GOP response. I didn’t have the stomach for the theatrics this year. I did, however, read the President’s speech in full last evening, and this morning I took to Facebook, prior to reading any other analysis or reactions, to sketch out my thoughts. What follows is a reposting of those thoughts, polished up a tiny bit.
As usual, President Obama is extremely good at saying the things that many of us are thinking. He says them powerfully and eloquently, turning phrases in a way that stir up strong emotions. He may even believe them himself. This is a good thing to be able to do when one is speaking truth to power, and when one’s rhetoric can rouse people to unite for the purpose of making things better.
The problem with the 2015 State of the Union speech is that he wasn’t speaking truth to power. He is the power, and his actions over the past six years have been entirely contrary to the spirit of these words. From the very start of the speech, he painted an absurdly rosy picture of the “state of the union.” If anyone has paid attention to the conditions that gave birth to the economic crisis, they will know that it is far from over. Some of his statements about our wars and protection of civil liberties were outright lies, and his statements about climate change and protecting the environment were laughable, coming as they did from “the fracking president.”
For those who are inclined to believe that somehow, now unconstrained by the need to run for office again, the “real” Obama is coming out, and that he will be a champion of the people, I would ask you to look back at every speech the man has given, and think about how you felt at the time. Think of how you were inspired – how you were given to hope – and then think about what actually happened after each of the speeches.
Our fundamental problem is that we judge these politicians by what they say, and not by what they do. We judge them based on whether or not they are personally like-able, and by how we perceive their style. We on the Left allow ourselves to be bamboozled and co-opted, time and time again, by pretty words from the Democrats. What we should be doing is building an independent party of the working people that will truly stand for the best interests of the majority of us.
Liberals and other Democrats may make all of the excuses you would like. You may say that Obama’s heart is in the right place, and that it’s those damnable Republicans in congress who have tied his hands, but it just doesn’t wash. The reason Obama has been ineffective is that the people know in their hearts that his words and actions don’t match up. Otherwise there would have been a groundswell of support so large that it could not have been ignored, even by the GOP.