While speaking to the nation Tuesday, President Barack Obama covered a variety of topics including, healthcare, foreign policy, the economy, and even national security.
However what was most interesting was what he decided to leave out:
1. Independent Voters
Republicans and Democrats were mentioned multiple times during the president’s hour-long speech. Yet, 42 percent of Americans refuse to identify with either major party. Non-affiliated voters can be dismissed as ‘low-information voters’ or ‘unengaged,’ but they pay enough attention to understand Washington doesn’t work for them.
The Presidential Commission on Elections Administration was mentioned as the executive’s effort to combat long voting lines at the polls. This fundamentally misses the fact that millions of non-affiliated and third party voters are shut out from having meaningful participation in the electoral process.
2. Net Neutrality
In 2013 and again this year, fair and equal access to all online destinations is in jeopardy. Internet service providers (ISPs) continue to pursue policies that open Internet advocates say could be a “big problem.” Verizon won a lawsuit against the FCC in a recent court ruling, opening an avenue for ISPs to push toward greater cost for faster access to specific websites. Universal access to the Internet will be a high policy priority in the future, so the question remains as to whether or not the Obama administration thinks so as well.
3. War on Drugs
The President addressed the longest overseas deployment of American military personal, Afghanistan, but neglected to articulate why the federal government continues to spend billions of dollars each year incarcerating nonviolent drug users. Violence just south of the U.S. border has continued unabated for years while academics, economists, and other experts agree that the war on drugs has failed.
One of the largest legal questions that confronting the Obama presidency right now is whether or not whistle-blowers are legally protected. At present, there is little clarity regarding the scope of whistle-blower protections. As a result, federal prosecutors can continue to insist that whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and others should be imprisoned.
Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for leaking the ‘Collateral Death’ video, war logs that revealed much larger numbers of civilian casualties than the U.S. government had disclosed, and State Department cables which compromised diplomatic intelligence.
5. Financial Industry Volatility
The U.S. economy was a central part of Obama’s State of the Union address. He argued 2014 would be a “breakthrough year for America.” He highlighted the fact that the stock market had more than doubled since he took office in 2009. Nevertheless, unbridled speculation on financial products remains commonplace and no criminal action has been taken in light of the irresponsible lending practices that led to the Great Recession.
Watch the 2014 State of the Union: