President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union Address was one of his most eloquent and heartfelt speeches to date. It was uplifting, optimistic and tinged with unhidden regret. While at times his speech seemed overly ambitious and idealistic, it took on an appropriately forward-looking tone we would hope to see in Obama’s last address, and will serve as a good leaping off point for our next president.
He spoke on many of the key issues that we all expected and demanded him to speak on, such as criminal justice reform, gun violence, raising the minimum wage, dealing with drug abuse and the need to go after terrorist networks. But he also fulfilled our hopes of touching on the oftentimes overlooked, but equally important topics such as paid maternity leave and Pre-K education for all.
One of the most admirable aspects of the address is how Obama so unabashedly stated his greatest failures.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he said. He added that perhaps a more gifted president with the talents of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide.
While his speech gave us few answers or solutions to the problems he mentioned, it echoed his sentiments during his 2008 presidential campaign—that Americans must to work together to fix the problems of our nation.
Yes, Obama’s speech was optimistic and ideologically driven, but I find it difficult to fault him for that. As I listened to his speech, I could not help but think his intentions were less about summarizing his prior accomplishments and goals for the remainder of his term, and more about setting the tone for what the public should look for in our next leader.