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Opinion: State of the Union address fails to examine real problems

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Amidst a deep uncertainty over his presidency, growing concerns over the economy and domestic issues and a declining approval rating, President Barack Obama delivered his third and potentially final State of the Union address on Jan. 24 in front of a divided Congress.

Obama delivered the speech with the same can-do attitude that has defined his presidency, while speaking strongly about the American dream and other patriotic themes.

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” Obama said. “Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”

The speech, which was unquestionably a response to the criticisms Obama has received, was also a clear pitch for reelection.

But dig past the patriotic rhetoric and the proposed implementation of investigative units, tax breaks and innovations. We still live in a political climate that reeks of bipartisanship.

Despite several factual errors and evidence, Obama’s ideas are solid and examine many of the domestic issues that voters are concerned about. Yet the ideas also support big government and tax increases for the rich, both of which will cause plenty of flare from Republicans.

What we must remember, however, is that neither Obama nor Republicans hold the magic key to fixing this country. Voters do.

If we want to see the ideas that Obama proposed implemented or voted against, it is the citizens of the United States that must act. It is your Congress member that you voted for that directly represents you and your ideas.

This is the definition of a republic. This is what our Founding Fathers sought after when first establishing this government. However, this concept gets lost in every piece of media coverage related to the president today and every State of the Union.

Yes, the president is a leader. But does that person always represent you and your ideas? As citizens, why is our focus so much on the president and less on the members of our Congress?

This is reflected in voter statistics. Out of the entire voting-age population in the United States, 56.9 percent voted in the 2008 presidential election, while a mere 37.8 percent voted in the general election in 2010, according to the United States Elections Project.  

Voting and engaging in politics as a whole may also be the key to solving bipartisanship. A united nation, driven by information and hard facts, will force the members of Congress to unite as well. After all, voters define the status quo, and every Congress member must follow, or be voted out of office.

A nation divided against itself cannot stand. A nation that is dominated by bipartisanship and a focus on the words of a single individual will continue to struggle. A nation where citizens refuse to actively engage in politics will never succeed.

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The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College
Opinion: State of the Union address fails to examine real problems