Tuesday, January 26, 2010

State of the Union

Tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern, President Barack Obama is going to give a State of the Union address. I’m not going to speculate on the content, or tell you what I hope he’ll discuss. Rather, I’d like to give you a little history on the State of the Union and tell you why you should be listening tomorrow night.
He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
-Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

The first State of the Union address was given by George Washington on January 8, 1790. Since then, every president has either given a speech or written a memo (that was later read aloud to Congress) on an annual basis that detailed where the nation was and where it was going. This may seem a rather dated tradition in an age where almost everyone has access to national news, but the value isn’t in the reporting of the actual state of the union, it is in the framing of the details in the address.

That may not seem clear, so let me explain. There are certain facts about our country. Then there is the interpretation of those facts. Considering the breadth of geography, people, and political opinions – we don't all have the same vision of America. As citizens, we should know our leader’s thoughts on what is important (you can tell he thinks it’s important if he includes it in the speech) and why it is important.

Here at New Voices we do our best to help provide resources that empower you to become better communicators and advocates for research and science. Part of being good at communicating and advocacy is being informed; knowing where our elected officials stand on the issues and what they plan to do (so we can either encourage or discourage it).

I encourage you to take the time to listen to the State of the Union tomorrow night. If you won’t be home or near a radio, record it. If you can’t record it, we’ll have a link to a transcript up on Thursday (and we know you have Internet, or you wouldn’t be reading this). We don’t all have to agree with the president, but we have a duty to know how he sees our nation.

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