On Tuesday, the US saw the last ever Obama state of the Union address before he leaves office next year. The address was different from the usual traditional speeches that focus mainly on policy prescriptions. Instead, the president used the chance to point out challenges that have characterized his leadership. As well his version of a hopeful future ahead of the country. He pointed out challenges such as inequality and increased terrorism.
President Obama admitted that he had failed in delivering part of the change that was the basis of his presidential campaign; transforming Washington and US politics. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor. And suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” said Obama. He admitted to lacking the qualities of Roosevelt and Lincoln, which he believes would be successful at bridging the divide.
In his speech, Obama hit back at his opponents for criticizing his government, referring to their versions as ‘fiction’. According to the president, despite the opposition claiming that the country had grown weaker on the international front, The President said that he believed that the country was in a better position despite its domestic and international challenges.
Mr. Obama challenged Republican presidential hopefuls Donald J. Trump and Ted Cruz for their comments on the Muslim society. Rather than tough talk, President Obama said that the world will be looking up to the US to help get a lasting solution. “The world will look to us to help solve these problems,” President Obama insisted.
Other issues that came up in the lofty rhetoric and punchy address were health, the nation’s security, and harnessing technological change. President Obama called for an end to the game of political districts aimed at ensuring the advantage of a single party. He also called upon citizens to participate more in politics, a theme that characterized his first presidential campaign.
The President used the address to trace his successes during his term in office. Top of the list were the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). He also took credit for recovery from an ailing economy. Although, many who responded after the speech asked exactly which country and economy he was referring to. He admitted to failing to address the issue of immigration successfully, as well as new gun laws.
Comments across social media networks varied, as one might expect. However, as reported by Gallup for the first week of January, 2016, Obama’s approval ratings still show only 47% approval current rating and on his overall presidency to date.