This week, President Obama delivered his seventh and last State of the Union address. Regardless of where one stands on his policies/politics, he gives one hell of a speech.
Post-game analysis was fairly predictable. Republicans panned it policy-wise while Democrats were falling all over themselves with praise. It was, to me, reminiscent of President Reagan’s final SOTU, the wrapping up of two terms in a nice package. This is a compliment to both men.
The traditional “other party” — in this case Republican — response was noteworthy, and for a number of reasons.
First, it was a civility teacher’s dream. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina showed why many consider her a front-runner for the VP nod, presuming it’s not Donald Trump, whom she appeared to be calling out on the issue of tolerance — a charge the governor denies.
Second, she did an excellent job of weaving praise and criticism in the direction of the president, citing his historic election and the excitement he created while then stating that his record had “often fallen far short of his soaring words.”
And finally, she made a case for the GOP needing to take a share of the blame for the erosion of the public trust, saying, “We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.”
Back to the president, the Independent Voter Project has taken note of his calls for, either directly or indirectly, a number of things that are at the very core of what we stand for, most notably that democracy functions best when the most people participate.
“The future we want—opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids—all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.”
“It will only happen if we fix our politics.”
“And if we want a better politics…we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.”
“We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around.”
“Changes in our political process—in not just who gets elected but how they get elected—that will only happen when the American people demand it.”
“So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote.”
“We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.”
The Independent Voter Project supports efforts relative to increasing civility, compromise, and respect for other people’s opinions. Having both sides—all sides–simply talking to each other. We support legislative districts not being drawn by legislators and of course, we support increasing voter turnout and have taken an active role in educating the public about the rights of not only independent voters, but all voters to have their voice heard at all stages of our election process.
We applaud the president recognizing and pledging to take an active role in improving the voter landscape and we’ll be watching with great interest.
Editor’s note: Jeff Marston is co-chair of the Independent Voter Project.