A State of the Union Watch Guide (From Someone Who Knows What’s in the Speech)

At 9 p.m. ET tonight, millions of Americans will gather around televisions, and whip out their computers, smartphones, and tablets to watch President Obama deliver his seventh State of the Union address. It’s pretty much the Obama administration’s Season Seven Premiere. (Just a couple weeks after the Archer season premiere! And right on time for those of us who’ve been lost since Sons of Anarchy and the Walking Dead ended.)

While traditional television viewership has declined, the impact and importance of the State of the Union address has grown. It’s changed from a live television event to a multimedia extravaganza. Millions of Americans will consume the address later via on-demand video and their social media feeds. Once again, we’ll stream an “enhanced” State of the Union exclusively on WhiteHouse.gov that features charts, infographics, and a GIF or two to supplement the speech.

And this year, not only can you learn more about the policies you care about — you can also take audience polls about how they affect your life, and see immediate results. You can sign up to receive updates about those issues and policies. You can get state-specific, real-time information on what they’ll mean for you and your neighbors. And every piece of that content is shareable on Twitter, Facebook, and email, right on the page.

As we plan out the State of the Union, we think of four audience types — the TV Watcher who watches it live, the “Two Screen” Viewer watching on TV with a tablet or smartphone in hand, the Livestreamer who will watch on WhiteHouse.gov with special enhanced content, and the Social Consumer, who won’t watch the speech at all, but will discover our content and policy through their social media feeds.

This State of the Union — the speech and the content — is designed to have something for all of those viewers.

The news today is awash in articles telling you “What to Watch For” in the speech. Here’s the “White House’s Guide to Watching the 2015 State of the Union.” I recommend ours over the other guides because, well, I’ve actually read the speech about 1,000 times by now and know what the President is going to say. (Sorry — no spoilers for SOTU Bingo.)

Here are some things to look out for
whenever, wherever, however, and with whomever you choose to watch
President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address.
  1. “Middle-Class Economics”: For the last eight years, ever since the beginning of the President’s first campaign, we have been engaged in a vigorous economic policy debate — middle-class economics vs. top-down, trickle-down, or supply-side economics, take your pick. We’ve all seen and experienced the results of top-down economics. But six years later, despite all the doom-and-gloom-the-sky-is-falling predictions about President Obama’s policies, the economy is steadily growing, businesses are steadily hiring, the deficit is steadily falling — and wages are beginning to rise again.
    The verdict is in: Middle-class economics works. And on Tuesday night, the President will discuss his plan to build on the progress we’ve made and keep wages and incomes rising — a middle-class economics that works for the 21st century. He’ll highlight proposals to offer the support families need to make paychecks go farther right now, the tools families need to earn higher wages, and the conditions businesses need to keep generating good, high-paying jobs.
  2. Six Years of Progress: The President will deliver Tuesday’s address in the Chamber of the House of Representatives — inside the same Capitol where, six years ago to the day, he delivered his first Inaugural Address on the steps of that very same building. The President will discuss how far we’ve come together in those six years — how together, we have traveled from the precipice of a second Great Depression to the fastest economic growth in over a decade, where jobs are growing faster than at any point since the 1990s, we are as free from the clutches of foreign oil as we’ve been in three decades, and deficits have been cut by two-thirds.
  3. A Story, Not a Laundry List: Over the years, the State of the Union address has become a “laundry list” of policies and ideas. And while the President stands by the ideas he’s laid out in the past — those that have been adopted have made this country stronger, and those that haven’t, he’s still pushing for — he’s going to leave this year’s list to the budget he sends Congress in two weeks. On Tuesday night, he plans something a little different. Consider it “A Very Special Episode” of the State of the Union.
  4. Write a Letter, Attend the SOTU: Last year, the President traveled across the country to spend a day in the life of some of the everyday Americans whose letters he reads each night. Many of those letter writers will sit with the First Lady — and the President just might highlight their stories in his address.
  5. An enhanced viewing experience: Once again, we’ll stream an “enhanced” State of the Union exclusively on WhiteHouse.gov that features charts, infographics, and a GIF or two to supplement the speech. And this year, not only can you learn more about the policies you care about — you can also take audience polls about how they affect your life, and see immediate results. You can sign up to receive updates about those issues and policies. You can get state-specific, real-time information on what they’ll mean for you and your neighbors. And every piece of that content is shareable on Twitter, Facebook, and email, right on the page.

So what’s the President got in store for his penultimate State of the Union? Tune in at 9 p.m. tonight on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU to find out.

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