President Trump delivered the annual State of the Union speech, and there’s a lot I could say: from a need to go through the entire speech with a fact checker or maybe the democratic response to the speech or even the state of the president himself. Instead, I want to look back on the purpose of the address itself and whether or not it’s actually still needed today.
According to the United States Constitution, the State of the Union address fulfills rules in Article II requiring that the president periodically give the Congress information on the state of the Union. (Hence the name if you haven’t already caught on). This speech is where he will give his ideas and policy ideas that he would like the House to consider. In the past, the State of the Union addresses weren’t always given orally. This started with President Jefferson, who addressed the State of the Union in a lengthy, written report in 1807. This tradition continued until Woodrow Wilson, who believed that there should be a personal interaction with Congress, so in 1913, he addressed Congress orally.
Has this purpose changed? The president may be constitutionally obligated to deliver this address, but is it still for the Congress? Or has to become geared for us at home watching? If the information is for us at home, then what do we do with that information? When it comes to President Trump’s speech, I found there was no purpose since there was no policy introduced. Sure, it is important to know all that has been done in the past year, see the state’s economic position and recognize those who have fought for our country and so on. I guess we were able to hear his stance on a few issues, not that we didn’t already know.
But the main purpose of the State of the Union in the past was to hear from our president what people don’t normally hear from. In this case, we hear from Trump all the time. We see him in the news every day and we see his everyday commentary via Twitter. So this appericance was nothing special.
The State of the Union address also sucks a large amount of time out of our lives. Trump’s was one of the longest addresses in history, timed at a hour and twenty minutes. Is this time necessary? Especially now, when we are living in an era where we are able to get information online? We can easily get information on our state’s economic and foreign relation standings, and we are updated on these standings constantly through the news. Is it time to modernize the State of the Union address? Where instead of taking time to stand and clap every two sentences and just talking about how great we are, the address could be a short, brief statement of a new policy to progress our country. The country and the world are not the same place they were centuries ago. This goes into the topic of following the same constitution word-for-word, made by several white men, on how to run the country. Yes, the document is important, but do we just go blindly through life following this piece of paper? Progression means moving toward a more advanced state, and that’s what our country needs. Maybe that change could start with this address.
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 9, 2018, Edition of The Echo.