“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
That’s Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, and why President Barack Obama will be giving a State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
But, we wonder, what if the president of the United States gave a State of the Union speech … and nobody showed up?
Given the acrimony and paralysis prevalent in today’s politics, whatever programs are suggested by President Barack Obama on Tuesday night might as well be spoken in an empty room as to a joint session of Congress and other dignitaries in the House chamber.
As is custom, Speaker of the House John Boehner will say “Members of [the] Congress, I have the high privilege and [the] distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.”
That will be the last nice thing the president is likely to hear from any Republican that night, and, for that matter, in the near future.
It is traditional — no matter who is president — for members of his party to rise and to applaud just about everything he says during the speech while the opposing party members stay seated and look as glum as possible. But things have gotten far more acrimonious since Obama took office in 2009.
With so many Republican members of the House in safe, gerrymandered districts where they don’t have to worry about appealing to centrist voters, and the same dynamic working for GOP senators in red states, Obama knows he won’t get the legislation he wants.
So, what is it we would like the president to say on Tuesday?
We would like him to go for it, to be bold, to talk to Congress like he did to the voters in the last two elections.
Stand up for Obamacare. Three million people have signed up, and millions more will benefit from it in the years to come.
Don’t settle for a watered-down, piecemeal version of immigration reform. The American public wants meaningful change. Use this bully pulpit to change the future for the better.
Rein in the NSA’s incursions on our privacy while making certain the agency can do its job of protecting the country.
Show the courage to demand logical, reasonable gun-control legislation.
Reiterate that manmade climate change is real … and dangerous.
And mostly, propose long-overdue solutions to the obscene economic inequality that is weakening America. Start with demanding an extension of unemployment benefits.
Even if those in Congress do nothing, there’s a chance — just a chance — that voters may one day hold them responsible.