Point of View Columns

The Real State of the Union

This Tuesday evening President Obama will address the nation, and the world, and deliver the first State of the Union address of his second term. As we listen to his presentation and to the inevitable commentary from pundits and commentators it might be a good idea to actually consider the state of this union of United States. As is the case in many instances there is good news and not so good news.

The not so good news is that there is a hardcore cohort of right wing zealots who have seized virtual control of one of the two major political parties in this country. The Teapublican agenda is dismissive of all aspects of history that do not support their base philosophy which is that government is the enemy of the people and should be curtailed or eliminated wherever possible.

Such a perspective neatly avoids the reality behind the reason that this country is truly exceptional. Indeed, without free, compulsory, universal public education – a national highway infrastructure – an unparalleled network of public and private higher education institutions – a social safety net that provides healthcare, food and housing for a huge segment of the populations – a relatively reliable system of laws, rules and regulations – this country would not only be unexceptional, it would be on its way to Third World status – only bigger than most such countries in that category.

Somehow, the right wing of the right wing has bought into this Ayn Rand grim fairy tale that divides all of humanity into makers and takers. And in this fractured fairy tale, the makers are all self-made men and women who have succeeded solely by reason of their talent, skill and overall superiority. These “makers” don’t bother to explain how the lights work and the water runs in their self-made universe.

And the Teapublicans have become so convinced that they are absolutely correct that they have adopted a terrorist philosophy whereby the end justifies any means. So far those means have included insulting the President of the United States at every turn, trying to subvert the electoral process throughout the country and threatening to collapse the economic infrastructure of the United States.

So far the insults have fallen short as President Obama doesn’t dignify the mudslinging with a response – well, there was that time that he barbequed Donald Trump at the National Press Club Dinner, but who could blame him? The Teapublicans in state after state tried to suppress the vote in the 2012 election, and while they were not successful they are also not finished trying to pervert democracy in this country – The RobertsScaliaThomasAlito wing of the United States Supreme Court will weigh in on the Voting Rights Act very soon so buckle your seatbelts.

Finally, Teapublican craziness was cited by numerous financial analysts as the reason why the credit rating of the United States was downgraded in 2011. Now they are trying to make you believe that doing the flamenco on the edge of the fiscal cliff is some kind of patriotic strategy when that strategy is the real job killer in this economy.

The good news is that people who believe in a progressive approach to public policy, government and life have found a political voice. That voice does not belong only to Barack Obama although he is a hell of lead singer.

The last election proved that there are men and women throughout this country who are willing to stand up to the Teapublican lyingbullyingintimidating tactics and speak out for what they believe in. This growing New Majority is voting for candidates who are also willing to stand up to the pseudo-tsunami that the Teapublicans would have us believe is the wave of the future.

The 2012 election also illustrated that the battle lines are no longer between the red states and the blue states. The battle is not a class issue in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, the battle lines are between those who believe that the role of government must include compassion, innovation and continual renaissance. In the other corner are those who believe that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs and that government has no role to play until they need help – then the tune is different, if only for a few days.

The State of the Union is a precarious one, to be sure. The final good news is that justice, compassion and a progressive vision of the future are sure to triumph.


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