A speech begins with praise for our troops and ends on the same note. The content is about the value of American workers and an appeal to congress to do away with regulations purported to threaten the interests of business. Tough words are spoken, just shy of promising war, for an enemy regime. The speech ends as it began, thanking the military.
Were it not for the fact this speech also included an admonition that we reduce subsidies for the oil industry, pleas to increase interest in clean energy and a renewed dedication to the Federal government's involvement in education, one might assume that this speech was given by a Republican. But it was not. It was the State of the Union address, 2012, given by President Barack Obama.
It is no surprise or secret that the Democrats have been moving to the right over the past 3 decades. As the Republicans have campaigned on less centrist positions and have begun more to look like some political cartoonist's parody of them from the 80's, the Democrats have had to dip a little red into their blue simply to maintain the interest of middle America. President Obama ran on this and it is one of the reasons he sits in the Oval Office today.
And I want to say that this shift makes me happier as a Moderate, and some of it does. But for me it's not so much that the President is willing to come to the center, but what it is, exactly, on which he is willing to make that shift.
The President's main themes were, if I understood them correctly:
- The Economy, by way of investing in small business and domestic business
- Infrastructure, mostly clean energy research
- Unity of purpose, despite differences
- Education, especially as it relates to jobs.
None of those are objectionable talking points and, for the most part, I found the President's words to be steps in the right direction. But at the same time, I was struck by some of the talking points that he brushed by: Not taking anything off the table as far as Iran goes, protecting US media from piracy and not allowing kids to drop out of school.
The first of those points, Iran, sounded to me like he was ready to plunge us back into war if it meant keeping the bomb out of Iranian hands. Were we not still picking up the pieces from Iraq and trying to get the heck out Afghanistan, I might be in agreement. And it may even be a really good idea. But I don't relish they idea of us stepping into another sandy place full of brown people and bomb the snot out of it; it's an action that I would not want us to take without significant support from other major world powers and that needs to be handled much better than Iraq War II: Electric Bugaloo, should it come to pass.
The mention of online piracy scared me, frankly. With the temporary defeat of SOPA and PIPA, there are a lot of people not realizing that this was just one battle in what may be a permanent state of war. The government, right on the heels of shelving those bills, put a number bills up for discussion, including the Enemy Expatriation Act and the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act which stand to weaken the freedom and anonymity of the average person, eroding our constitutional protections. The President ran on a platform promising to protect civil liberties, but has agreed to measures to limit those rights that I would expect more from Republican fear mongers, not a scholar of Constitutional Law.
And while dropping out of school never seems to me like a great move, the insistence that all kids, regardless of circumstance, be kept in classes until either 18 or graduated sounds like another well meaning measure that's based more on detached principle than understanding of the current situation. Almost like you're trying not to leave any child behind, regardless of how it effects the children in question.
The President's speech was not horrendously shocking, but the tone seemed less Liberal and more Electable to me than his previous speeches have. Perhaps this is simply a recognition of the United States' current situation and a measured response to the same. But it also might be further proof that the Left in the US is becoming more like the Republican Party circa 1980, even as the Republican Party seems to become more and more like characters that Orwell and Huxley would have rejected as being too unbelievably loony for government officials.
The Republicans have yet to produce a viable candidate for the 2012 Presidential election that doesn't seem like the executive version of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or worse, some genetic crossbreed between Ronald Regan and a particularly disagreeable gorilla. They show no signs of speaking to those who don't wish our government to be primarily concerned with women's uteruses, men's rectums or cow towing to millionaires. So in this vacuum left by the absence of a conservative yet approachable politician to take up the banner for the Right, it appears the Democrats have taken it upon themselves to fill that void.
And it seems the person filling it, maybe, just maybe, is already in office.