In his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12, President Barack Obama urged the nation to reject the politics of fear and polarization and for Americans to respond to economic and other societal changes with confidence instead of fear.
Instead of a long list of policy proposals that presidents usually give, Obama’s final State of the Union address was different.
In many ways he offered a much needed rebuttal against the fear-mongering espoused by Republican presidential candidates now campaigning to succeed him.
The Republican presidential hopefuls are telling Americans that the nation is in decline and that they should be afraid, Obama said.
The president offered a strong rebuttal to the politics of fear.
“America has been through big changes – wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights,” said Obama in the prime-time televised address.
“Each time, there has have been those who told us to fear the future, who claimed we could slam the brakes on changes, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control,” he said.
The president’s words offered a strong contrast to the word of Donald J. Trump and other GOP candidates who are running to succeed him.
Ironically the gloom-and-doom approach of the Republicans comes at a time of a resurgent economy and when America is not in major military confront.
The fact is that since President Obama took office, the nation has created more jobs and more Americans have access to health care through the Affordable Care Act.
While the nation still faces the challenges of income equality and terrorism, progress has been made under the Obama administration.
The unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent, cut in half since its peak during the financial crises he inherited from the Bush administration. More than 13 million more jobs have been created since the economic recovery began. Violent crime is down as are gasoline prices.
Yet many problems remain. The poverty rate is at 14.8 percent, higher than when Obama took office. The rise of the Islamic State and terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calf., has many Americans more anxious.
But the overly bleak picture that Republicans are seeking to paint of America in deep decline is wrong and seeks to exploit the anxiety of those Americans who have lost ground in the economy and the security concerns they have about terrorism.
When Obama took office he inherited a financial crisis, the worse recession since the Great Depression and a nation fighting two wars. With this in mind, the problems that remain have to be put in proper perspective.
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune