A New Civility: Did State of the Union help or hurt?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0126_State_of_the_Union_Address_President_Obama.jpgSTATE OF THE UNION (Photo courtesy of White House media service.)

Seeing Republicans and Democrats sitting together at last night’s State of the Union address was a positive sight. In past addresses, congressional reactions have been like a disjointed wave at a sporting event. One side up; one side down.

Even so, one could see vestiges of times past—though seated together, only Democrats or only Republicans rose at particular moments. Especially telling were the two figures over Obama’s shoulders: Vice President Biden and the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner.  Boehner’s applause was a few seconds behind Biden’s, or didn’t occur at all, as in response to the freedom of gays to serve in the military.

Yet, last night was a bit of a relief, at least a token sign of a new civility. Do you think it helped to bridge the gap between left and right? Obama made overtures to bipartisanship: “Governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties,” he said. “We will move forward together, or not at all.”

He also referred to creating the 21st Century government—one that is smaller, consolidated, more efficient, and more competent. This is sure to appeal to Republicans, but how could it not appeal to everyone?

Obama also said that this is our “Sputnik moment”—a metaphor that America had fallen behind (again) and the unexpected achievements of our rival nations should be a spur to renewed investments in biomedical research, green technologies, and renewable energy. By 2035, he said, we should get 85% of our energy from clean energy sources.

Do you agree that we’ve arrived at a Sputnik moment?

Did you watch the State of the Union address? 

Do you think it injected a modicum of civility?

Please “Comment” below.

(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)

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