If I were President Obama, the events of this second term would have me wound tighter than an eight-day clock.
To my amazement, however, the President emerged Tuesday night looking incredibly vibrant and fresh-faced. He came across as composed and confident, and overall had a positive presence about him.
Call me a hippie, but I am a big believer in vibes, and I thought this speech was generally filled with good ones.
That being said, I wish positive vibes alone could fix all the problems this nation will face in 2014. If they could, I'm sure the ones emanating from Colorado and Oregon right now would last us many years. Unfortunately, what we need this year is serious action and bipartisanship. For me, there were some really high points and some equally low points in the speech. Although this is true of any political address, the State of the Union is especially critical.
This historically important speech outlines what the executive branch plans to tackle in the subsequent year and how they plan to do it. If you're like me, sitting still for an hour and a half of this stuff can be pretty hard.
In case you missed the speech or fell asleep (did anyone else see Joe Biden looking a tad bored?), here are a couple things that rubbed me the wrong way and a few things I thought were really positive.
I love that we are finally taking the idea of apprenticeships seriously. I know we like to think every person deserves the opportunity for higher education, but in reality, this avenue is just not right for some people.
There are plenty of jobs out there that pay well and don't require a college degree, and connecting these jobs with people who don't want to pursue higher education would be an efficient way to help reduce unemployment and boost the economy.
Also, closing Guantanamo is a must; it's an international embarrassment contradicting parts of our Constitution that are held in the highest esteem in American courts. "It's about damn time," is really the most concise thing I can say about that.
I also think it's about time minimum wage was lifted. I'm not going to sit here and pretend my parents don't support me and I struggle to eat every day, but I have worked many minimum wage jobs and, frankly, they all sucked. I honestly have no idea how people with kids and bills survive on $7.25 an hour.
If you think this is an acceptable minimum wage, I really encourage you to go bus tables for a week. I'm hopeful that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 will set the bar for companies all across America.
On a more negative note, I am so frustrated with discussions about "gun violence" that totally lack consideration of mental health.
This country's mental health system is broken, and if you think people who walk into malls and schools and shoot numerous people are mentally sound, then you probably need some help yourself. Gun control is not going to pass in Congress anytime soon, and I'm not sure it even represents an answer.
The root of the problem could be treating people with mental illnesses that predispose them to violence; we aren't going to stop the Sandy Hooks and mall shootings until we address mental health properly.
Secondly, all of the not-so-subtle references to executive power have me a little worried. They may have been phrased differently, but we all got the point: "I'll act on my own...I'll cut the red tape...My administration will keep working...I'll use my authority." My personal favorite was the "you don't have to wait on Congress" jibe. No matter how creatively he said it, Obama was basically telling Congress to either get on board or start swimming.
My opinion on Congress is just as low as everyone else's right now, but they are still a democratically elected Congress and they still have juice whether we like them or not.
I'm not sure giving them the verbal middle finger was necessarily the best way to start out a year that desperately needs some bipartisanship and good old fashioned teamwork. I noticed the hints and I know they did too, and it makes me uneasy to think we are starting this year off on a negative note.
Passing the budget was a start, but if they are going to accomplish everything that was outlined in this year's State of the Union, they need to stop playing word games and figure out how to compromise.
Katie Dean is a junior in political science. She can be reached at email@example.com.