Tuesday night’s State of the Union address and subsequent response solidified the notion that this country’s political system is sick, stagnant and in desperate need of change on both sides of the congressional aisle.President Bush delivered his speech to a joint session of Congress, keeping not only the same positions as his past speeches, but also keeping the same language.
Watching the address, one couldn’t help getting a strong feeling of dÂjÂ vu. Even as approval for the war falls, Bush uses the same explanations for why people should continue to care and want a sufficient force in Iraq.
While many do not approve of the war or of the handling of the war, most people understand that pulling out troops immediately is dangerous for Iraq and for our country. The only thing these people need is an example of leadership that extends beyond the “stay the course” mantra. The course we are on doesn’t look good to most people, so the best thing to do is be open to new ideas and encourage everyone in government to find a new way to handle this situation.
In another glaring example of the difference between empty talk and actual leadership, Bush called for a commitment to decreasing America’s dependence on oil through alternative fuel research.
Once again, he has said the exact same thing before. In the time since he made this claim in his last major address, where was the massive, Apollo-space-program-like, research-spending push to make this dream a reality? Or if you aren’t a fan of government spending the money, where was the scientific summit where researchers from major energy companies, auto companies and government entities set concrete goals and agreed to pool resources to give us alternative fuels in the next decade?
These types of actions come from true leaders. We saw it when Eisenhower pushed for interstate highways. We saw it, obviously, when Kennedy kick-started the national commitment to the space program. The president can’t force something to happen, but he can inspire action by sharing an idealistic vision.
Instead we get, at least by Congress’ standards, chump change thrown at the problem and a leader that merely pays lip service to the idea of new, clean fuels.
The final nail in the coffin, however, came when Bush railed for more work on Social Security reform, even after a year of failure on that front as Democrats and fellow Republicans shot down his proposals.
In one of the more despicable showings of partisanship that night, the Democrats cheered when Bush spoke of how his attempts at Social Security reform were rejected. No matter what method of reform you support, Social Security is in trouble, and a failed attempt to correct it is nothing to get excited about. The Democrats are essentially cheering the fact that they, and everyone else in Congress, are so petty that they are unable to reach a solution to a problem.
If the Democrats or Republicans were serious about fixing Social Security or the availability of medical insurance, they would take real action. What should they do? Eliminate all taxes on retirement savings and find ways to decrease medical costs at the source. This may not fix the problem completely, but at least it is bold action.
The only thing the American people will take from this address into the 2006 midterm elections is that the Republicans are completely clueless, the Democrats are petulant children, both groups are arrogant beyond reproach and we might as well not vote because there is no lesser evil to choose.
What is the state of our union? It is anemic. It will remain that way until we the people demand more from our policymakers.
We need to stop looking for the next rich white man that claims to be a “man of the people” and start looking for someone with new ideas.
We need third parties on the ballot, and we must give them equal time in the media. Beyond that, we must have better politicians in existing parties.
Most of all, we need to shake up government.
Managing editor Brian Chatman is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.