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New year, new possibility for unity in politics

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President Obama delivered his fourth State of the Union address Tuesday night and outlined his plan for “An America Built to Last.”

If bipartisan applause was any indicator, then much of the president’s remarks were well-received, but Republican commentator Todd Domke said the address was a ‘campaign speech.’ In the official Republican response, Illinois Gov. Mitch Daniels showed no love for the president or his proposed legislative initiatives.

I love the State of the Union address. I love the gossip of who will sit with the first lady. I love the response statements. I love the goose bumps that always show up when so many world leaders gather in the House Chamber. Heck, I even love the standing ovations.

But I do not love the hypocrisy.

Every year the message from the president is the same: Americans are strong and ready to reach our potential, but our government needs to work together to enact the policies that will get us there.

Yes, Mr. President, Americans are strong people. So are the people of Iraq, China, Mexico and Bosnia.

People are strong because they are people. People are tough.

People are smart; other times they are not. People triumph over evil; other times they succumb to it.    

People make mistakes; other times they fix them. People love each other; other times they hate each other. 

People are people regardless of their nationality.

The American people are no stronger than any other. There is no “American gene.” There is nothing in the Kool-Aid, and there is nothing in the Constitution that makes our people stronger.

The Constitution was not written to make us stronger people but to give us a stronger government.

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” The union of America is its government, not its people. It does not matter how strong the people are but only how strong the government is.

Though our government may be powerful, it is anything but strong.

There is more bickering on Capitol Hill than there is in Colby Hall. Our government is divided, not united.

President Obama closed his speech saying, “As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful and the state of our Union will always be strong.”

But what is the common purpose? What is the common resolve?

What we have is two parties with different health care goals, different foreign policy goals, different tax goals and different social policy goals. Right now it seems the only common purpose in Washington is to win in November. With that atmosphere, America is anything but strong, and I have little hope for much political progress in the 2012 election year.

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps our nation’s leaders will lead their people and not their party.

Perhaps change will come. I would never be happier to be wrong.

Perhaps America will rise above all other nations to lead the world in education, technology, economic output, environmental responsibility and social solidarity.
Perhaps.

David Shaver is a sophomore journalism major from Canyon.

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