State of the Union Addresses Are Stupid

Created: 31 January, 2018
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read

Sound the Independent Thought Alarm!

We've got a live one here!

It's funny that you won't hear just about anyone say it anywhere else, not even a lot of independent voters. It's funny because people treat the State of the Union Address like a magnificent, sanctified ritual of our democracy, when it's obviously absolute insanity.

To begin with, it's predictable. You know exactly what's going to happen going in, so it's incredibly boring too.

The president is going to congratulate himself and his party on a litany of great things that are happening. Half the room is going to stand up and clap wildly for an hour and a half until their hands are chafed.

The other half of the room is going to sit still and glare coldly and roll their eyes.

What it amounts to is a ceremonial play-acting of the cult of partisanship in American politics, a ceremony (established by Woodrow Wilson at the beginning of the 20th century) designed to sanctify partisanship and imbue the current ruling party with an aura of ascendancy and impute the dignity and valor of certain carefully-selected heroic guests to the current president.

The thing is if you watched any other country's similar ceremonies, it wouldn't seem magnificent to you the way the State of the Union does. It would look and feel like propaganda.

The more different the country (like say a country that is Asian and communist), the more blatantly it will appear as the propaganda that it is.

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But for some reason (partisanship) people will look at the president in power with their party's designation as a noble and heroic figure and blissfully soak in all the propaganda, even if he's doing everything they said they hated the last president for doing. Kool aid is so yummy. It's so sweet and brightly colored!

Take for instance Donald Trump's State of the Union address (full transcript) last night.

Throughout it, Republicans vigorously clapped for proposals that they vigorously opposed as socialist, big government, liberal tax-and-spend policies under Obama. They applauded when Trump announced: "Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need."

But when Obama pushed a comparatively modest(!), but still gargantuan $800 billion appropriation for stimulus spending on infrastructure his first year, no House Republicans voted for it and only three Senate Republicans voted for it.

So why do they like big government, socialist make-work programs now all of a sudden? Because you're insane.

And the only way they can continue to appropriate so much of our economy (federal budgets have been over 20% of GDP since 2008) and then get applauded for giving it back to us (after taking their cut of it and then funneling it through narrow special interest groups that are good at lobbying for government contracts) is if they split themselves into two groups and make you unquestioningly hate one half and love the other, and each half trades off playing the role of righteous over-thrower of the establishment who's really going to clean this mess up and Drain The Swamp!™ for real this time.

Oops. Sorry. We couldn't do it because of those pesky obstructionists on the other side. And now they're in power and we have to look gloomy for CNN's cameras during the president's State of The Union.

And spoiler alert: The State of the Union is always strong.

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Listen, if we are all really so sad and pathetic that as grown-ass men and women, we actually need a yearly pep rally to give us hope or motivate us or make us feel good, there are professional motivational speakers out there who give a way more rousing speech than Donald Trump, and charge high but comparatively reasonable fees compared to – you know, your children's future.

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