Monday, January 30, 2006
State of the Union
Tomorrow night, our nation’s president will be issuing his annual State of the Union Address. It got me to thinking…
Exactly what is the state of our union? See, I don’t really expect the president to answer that question. Not with any real specificity anyway. Oh, sure he’ll give a list of all the great progress we have made in our various and sundry endeavors domestically and around the world, but what is the state of our union at the very local, very personal level?
Of course, that depends on whom you ask. Assessment depends on perspective. It’s how one views the world and how those events affect one in real and abstract terms. If I have loved ones in Iraq then the foreign policy in respect to the “war on terrorism” has a direct and personal impact on my daily life. If I don’t, then it still may have an effect, but in a more abstract way and probably not as a constant presence that I am sure those closer to the conflict feel. The state of the union on this topic may, to some, only be a matter of policy discussion rather than life and death.
Then there is the matter of the Supreme Court. It appears that the court is about to take a tilt towards the right. How does this affect the state of the union? To some, at a very personal level, this shift spells disaster – today! It bears on their every waking moment. I am with those that do not take this recent turn of events as an immediate threat. Besides the total unpredictability of how justices will view cases, the court does not have the power or the inclination to be overturning precedent willy-nilly. Indeed, it is the only branch of government that has adhered to any ethical standards and not been immersed in scandal after scandal after scandal.
How about the economy? There’s an issue that should be near and dear to pretty much everybody. Bush will say that the economy is growing, that so many new jobs have been created, that the tax cuts for the rich and the spending cuts for the poor are working. The vocal rich will agree, the silent poor won’t and those in the middle are just plugging away. The establishment does not pay too much attention to those on the fringe. The victims of Enron, the victims of Katrina and the victims of government are no longer front-page news. If you are not among them, the state of your union is not so bad.
It is true that we get outraged on a regular basis. We cry foul, we stomp our feet and we scream, “No fair!” There is a brief period of intense pressure and then it goes away. The status quo re-asserts itself and we go on about our happy, ignorant lives. Almost all of us. In the wake of these outrages are those left behind. Those whose life savings went into the pockets of those who are using that money to mount multi-million dollar defenses. Those who are making payments on homes that will never be rebuilt. Those who are dying in Iraq. And... those who are paying attention.
So tell me, what is the State of your Union?