Students underwhelmed by State of the Union address

Last night, Jan. 28, President Obama addressed the nation with a State of the Union address that pushed for new legislation, including raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, working with states to provide high quality public preschool education, reforming immigration and committing to American diplomacy. Students’ reactions were mixed.

Cole Bruno ’16, a Republican, was unimpressed.

“[Obama] was very vague,” Bruno said. “He said he wanted an end to gun violence and immigration reform but didn’t say how he was going to accomplish that.”

Some liberals were also upset with Obama’s address. Those looking for new ideas found few.

Baxter Stein ’14, a liberal and Obama supporter, said that the president  struck out with liberals on ideologies but that he delivered an effective speech overall.

“Obama’s proposals did not galvanize the liberal base. They were not overly innovative or idealistic,” Stein said. “Still, he seemed to be revitalized and ready to take action into his own hands.”

Republicans also delivered their own responses, four in total. The official response, however, was delivered by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a high-ranking Republican congresswoman.

Rodgers said that she had a vision for America, “one that champions free markets and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you.”

Some students argued, though, that the response had even less substance than the address.

Christopher McKinney ’14, the president of the Staples Young Democrats, felt mostly apathy towards Rodgers’ response.

“It didn’t evoke a flinch or any sort of emotion from me after I watched it. They didn’t say anything more than ‘Here’s what we’re going to do (insert inspirational goals), but we can’t tell you how  we can do it,’” McKinney said.

With tepid responses from both sides, a larger question remains. Will this really be the year of action President Obama says it will be? If Obama is to get any of the proposals discussed in the State of the Union passed, he will need the help of Congress. To do this, he will need to convince legislators to compromise.

Chris McKinney agrees with the president that it is time for legislators to put their differences aside and start working.

“I’d rather not get everything I want but watch the democratic process at work than get nothing at all,” he said.