Reflections On Our State Of The Union

Trump’s State of the Union Address

Last week we heard Trump’s State of the Union address. These annual presidential speeches catch our attention for we are interested in our nation’s status in a lot of areas. What are our policies internationally and domestically? What needs fixing and what goals lie ahead? Typically, these presentations give us a lot to think about. This one didn’t. It contained little policy, few dreams, and void of a uniting voice it promised to the “one American family.”

020718 State of the Union Address

To be fair, the counter presentation by Representative Joe Kennedy, III, did not leave us with many thoughts either. Was it addressing the state of our union or was it a dismissal of the President’s message?

State of the Union upstaged by a memo

Within hours, the President’s State of the Union address was upstaged by the revealing of the “Republican Memo.” The memo was purported to provide more to think about in a rather fearful way. Surely, it was promised, it would rally the nation to push back against the FBI and DOJ for their recent politically biased exercise of power. Did you hear the “thudding” sound it made? It was just paper. It was something to point to, maybe, but little else.

020718 Republican Memo

As quoted in Politico by Elana Schor, Senator McCain said, “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.”

It’s been a week of noise and false promise and frustration. Emotions, often anger, don’t always help us focus.

The state of our union as seen in a mirror

Stepping back from the week’s flurry of activity, considering messages sent and political players (legislators and pundits), I’m left with an image of our state of the union. Our nation is fractured and caught in wonderment over our current pain and fearful for our future. Where and why is it going wrong?

It’s easy to be an armchair critic. Let’s lay blame at the feet of our legislative leaders. Let’s accuse the media. Let’s fault America’s values and the pressures of a global society. (This could get to be a long list.)

Here’s a thought: When we look at our state of the union, do we see ourselves in it? Often when I listen to a state of the union address, I try to see myself in the mix somehow. Are the policies mentioned ones I favor? Do the dreams and goals mentioned resonate with my own aspirations? Are my concerns echoed by the voice(s) I hear? Where am I in this image I see?

020718 State of Union Mirror

Democracy requires an engaged citizenry

Democracy is messy. That’s not a caveat that forgives or explains much. But it does challenge us to realize the work ahead. Here’s a partial list worth considering:

  • Vote for legislative leaders who mirror our values and perspectives.
  • Be aware of governing issues, be they local, state, national or global.
  • Talk with others about our interests, our fears, our priorities, and our dreams.
  • Listen to our friends and neighbors and pundits and legislative leaders.

Do we listen to each other or do we simply wait to pounce on what we don’t like? How willing are we to listen (and face) those who disagree with us? Listening is good and powerful!

Do we talk with others about political issues? Or do we simply complain? Talking is an exchange of ideas (evolving some) and clear articulation of our values.

Talking and listening requires awareness. It’s easy to excuse our own willful ignorance. We’re busy. There’s work and family and education and… oh, having a life! How do we shoehorn politics into all of that?

Politics forms the state of our union

One recently said to me that politics isn’t everything. Politics may not be everything but it touches everything we touch. Pick anything and it’s easy to trace it back to one day in a legislative body.

For example, where do you live? How was the zoning determined for your neighborhood? Drink water lately? How did your local community ensure it was pure and safe to drink? Get a paycheck recently? Who decided those taxes? Politics, like it or not, affects our existence.

Equal Voice Voting and the state of our union

Let’s get back to the state of the union. Look in the mirror it holds up and you may realize your votes helped form some of those messages. Your vote counts …doesn’t it?

Our vote for the president may or may not count. It all depends on the state in which we live. Remember, almost half of the votes cast for a president do not count because of the winner-takes-all approach we use.

Equal Voice Voting is a good place to start for us to polish that state of the union mirror. Let’s use a system that makes every vote count and allows for every state to matter. Listen to the idea, talk it up with others, become aware of this issue and its nuances, and tell your legislators to vote for it.

Let’s improve our state of the union. After all, it should be a reflection of us!

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