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Response, Presidential State of the Union Address, "Where We Are and Where Do We Go From Here?"

by Francine Dash
Photo by Jacquelyn Martin
February 2023

I was a bit nervous about this one, because the facts are clear, there is a serious divide between what elected officials of both tribes say is happening and what is really happening.

Gas prices continue to fluctuate where I live (Indiana, Florida), and while lower than before, they are still pretty high. Food prices have gone up, but not in a way that doesn’t allow me to afford what I need. Prices for milk, for instance, or the tea that I like, are like a dollar higher. I find myself still buying what I want, but not liking how much I have to pay. And this affects what I have left in the bank to spend and save. How much I have left over is where I see the greatest difference. So, the “extras” that I would have splurged on are making the list less and less.

With all of that, I am also concerned about the state of the American democracy, like is it going to hold for another generation; or will these radical domestic terrorists have their way? When will the police shootings stop and what about all the school and other mass shootings? I want to feel like America is a safe place to dream, work and live. So, I was wondering what the president could say to make me feel okay with where I am and with the direction of the country.

What I heard repeatedly is that while we have passed laws, (the effects of which I personally do not feel, yet), the work is not finished. I heard a lot about what these laws are supposed to do in the coming years. But what I also saw and heard, was the president making a concerted effort to sway the public that there is bipartisan success.

President Biden made a calculated effort to highlight bipartisan reform. This forced both tribes to at times, acknowledge the president’s effectiveness, through applause and by some members standing. I saw both sides acknowledge some of the work the president said he would get done. Those moments were reassuring, because I need to know that these tribes are not caught up in some made up war that takes them away from compromise and the people’s business.

But, I also saw and heard heckling and chanting that made me feel rather uncomfortable. I was disappointed to see and hear this.

I expect our United States officials to be more dignified regardless of which tribe they represent. I expect them to represent the best of America at all times. I don’t want to feel like the anti-democratic energy that led to January 6th is in the room — ever.

At the end of it, I left feeling that President Biden was more calculating, perhaps more cunning, than I first thought. He seems to know how to press buttons, and I cannot help but wonder if he knew that certain comments would cause the heckling he received. “Good luck in your senior year,” said Biden.

Perhaps some Republicans played right into his hands on this one.