State of the Union 2016

Despite the hype, the State of the Union address was rather uneventful this year. Indeed, just 48 hours after the event, an internet search for it yields plenty of results but no clear success in terms of headlines. In fact, it largely seems to have faded into obscurity fairly quickly.

For students however, it does offer some interesting points and this obscurity is the first one. Perhaps the lack of interest in the SotU this year reflects the status of Obama as he draws towards the end of his presidency and this could be used as an example of perhaps an increasingly lame duck President. This could be supported by the fact he barely mentioned gun control at all in his speech despite his emotional attempts at gun control over the recent Christmas holidays.

It could also be used for examples of bipartisanship, or not. Indeed Obama said that one of his biggest regrets as President was the level of partisanship that had developed. It should be contrasted that partisanship in Congress is nothing new – Gingrich and Pelosi are recent examples of that. nonetheless the number of potential shutdowns has been noticeable in the recent history and perhaps this could be used as an example of a rise in partisanship. This would be useful evidence for an essay on the importance of parties in Congress, or for the Constitution topic (principles of it, whether the Founding Fathers would approve, etc).

Finally, it can certainly be used for policy, and to a lesser extent for an example of the role of the Vice President. Obama did talk about ISIS, education and drugs amongst other things and this would be useful for a Unit 3 essay on parties but also for Unit 4 in assessing whether he gets these done or not and therefore evaluating how much power a President actually has. In terms of the VP, Biden was given the role of leading an initiative to cure cancer (http://time.com/4178412/cancer-state-of-the-union-barack-obama-sotu/). This could be used for any 15 marker discussing the importance or otherwise of the role of the VP.

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