The Most Important Thing Obama Said in his final SOTU Speech

We need to fix politics in the United States.

The commander in chief opened this final and most important point by painting a picture of Americas future: one of “opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids,” striking the hearth strings of the nation, in classic Obama style. In doing this, he draws us all in.

What do we need to do? How can we as a nation achieve this future for ourselves? These question raises in everyones mind like floats on a fishing line, and he has us hooked.

Then, in refreshingly frank language he lays it out.

It’s okay to argue, it’s okay to disagree.

But we need to trust each other. And right now, we don’t.

If you’d like to read all of his thoughts on the matter in case you missed it or would simply like to revisit some of his points, bellow is a link to the full transcript. This particular topic comes near the end, and I find he does a bang up job on his own, no fluff or frill needed, so I’ll let that stand.

Although I think the President is clear, concise, and compelling, I’d like to toss my two cents into the wishing well.

The bare minimum requirements of a government is that it functions as a manager of affairs related to the nation over-which it presides. As President Obama proffers, and as I hope to examine, the party system has become so polarizing and divided, pushing anything through congress or even settling matters in casual conversation turned Lincoln-Douglas has become sisters with the impossible.

I think that this comes from too heavy a reliance on idealogy. Leaning on broad principles in order to come to conclusions leads to drastic measures. A pacifist will say guns ought to be outlawed outright, and a conservative will argue the government has no right to take away rights to guns. Suddenly there are two opposite sides — both with valid arguments — which each attach themselves to like barnacles on a ships hull.

This happens again and again. Abortion. Gun violence. Gay rights. Marijuana. Immigration.

It’s engrained in our history. Tariffs. Excise tax. Slavery.

There are some cases that are clearer than others, particularly in hindsight. Slavery, gay rights. Even these questions, whose answers seem obvious, cause major debates that stretch over decades and lead to bloody wars. (Luckily gay rights went a little smoother than slavery, but you catch my tune).

This demonstrates the fundamental issue with american politics. It’s culture is so diverse, with such a range of experience and teaching, some issues will never be settled by simple discussion. It will never end if everyone always sticks to their guns (pun intended).

The bottom line is that somehow, against all odds, against biology and history, we must open our minds, we must entertain things which we oppose, we must step into our neighbors shoes — even if they’re not comfortable. We must go gently into this good night, and be able to give in.

We can do this by responding to the facts. Weird, I know.

By this, I mean it may be prudent to start to take approaches at mild compromise and go from there. Let’s take the gun issue for example. Instead of taking aggressive action from either side, let’s take the road less traveled and immpliment small changes. There have been shootings and people have died. Those shootings keep happinging. Those are the facts. Australia implemented stricter gun laws and the homicide rate with firearms dropped 59% in ten years. That’s also a fact. But okay, a lot of Americans want their guns. Fair enough. So we go small. Better background checks. invest in gun safety innovations. Mild restrictions on over the top weapons like assault rifles.

If that works, perfect! We’re done. But maybe it doesn’t. Then we go from there. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the political stones are laid even slower.

But we need change. We need to respect each party and stop mocking and dehumanizing each other.

When George Washington warned against political parties, this is what he was talking about. What do you think he would say to us today?

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