DO YOU THINK that tonight’s State of the Union address will be ranked as truly historic?
What would make it historic? Today, I hope you will add a comment with your answer to this question. In my estimation, it would have to be radical and pioneering. It would have to set broad new policies that ramify through history—and even change the course of history.
Here’s the Washington Post’s list of the ten “most memorable” State of the Union speeches. It’s slanted toward the modern era, including addresses by Obama, Bush (“W”), Clinton, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, FDR, Lincoln, Monroe, and Washington. Some of these don’t seem historic, at least according to my definition. One was Obama’s address in 2010, when Obama denounced the Citizens United ruling and Supreme Court Justice Alito mouthed the words “not true.”
Two addresses on this list are clearly historic. One by James Monroe articulated the “Monroe Doctrine,” stating that any future attempts by European nations to interfere with North or South America would be interpreted as aggression and responded to accordingly. The Monroe Doctrine has been cited by many presidents since, and continues to inform U.S. foreign policy.
The other is FDR’s famous “Four Freedoms” speech in 1941, which foreshadowed universal human rights. The four are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Another contender for an historic speeches is FDR’s 1944 address, in which he proposed an economic bill of rights, such as a living wage, employment, housing, medical care and education. Sometimes referred to as a “Second Bill of Rights,” its rights are still being contested and worked out today.
Are you expecting an historic speech?
If Obama were to articulate freedoms, what would you want him to address?
Please, leave a Comment below.
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.