The State of the Union

by Sarah Hinkel

On Tuesday evening, President Obama addressed Congress and the country on the state of the union for the sixth time since he has been in office. He assured Americans that the “Shadow of crisis has passed, and the state of the union is strong.”

President Obama attempted to convey values instead of pushing proposals. Throughout his address, I was encouraged to hear his desire to break party lines and pass bipartisan, practical ideas.

The president unveiled the newest political catchphrase during his address: middle-class economics. Obama describes middle-class economics as “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

He goes on to say that he does not want to give more hand-outs but wants to provide more opportunities for Americans to get ahead. There is no doubt that many people come to America for the promise of equal opportunity.

Obama even began his address with an anecdote about a couple raising their small family and working their way up in their careers. Their success was not promised to them. Everyone can have the same starting point but end in different places. Equality of opportunity does not guarantee equality of outcome.

When we start talking about everyone contributing his “fair share” and equal outcomes, we are dangerously close to describing socialist systems. Current countries such as Cuba and China, along with the former Soviet Union, follow this basic promise of equal contribution yielding equal return. We have seen many countries struggle and fall under this ideal. It will be a sad day if America succumbs to this creed.

I believe that President Obama wants the best for our country, but he is failing to recognize the danger signs that accompany his proposals.

During his address on Tuesday, Obama announced his plan to make the price of community college equal to zero. He reasoned that two years of free community college tuition would help Americans stay ahead of the curve. However, if an associate’s degree becomes as commonplace as a high school diploma, a college education and degree will lose value.

Along with his other proposals regarding the economy, education, medical advancements, military strategy, diplomacy, and climate change, Obama recognized that these desired results will take time. Nothing happens overnight. Even though he is in office for only two more years, he wants to make the most of it and get the proverbial ball rolling.

Obama ended his address by calling Americans to debate these issues without demonizing each other. This is something that we all need to take into consideration, especially here at Grace College, before we speak, write, or tweet.