Newly energized by his reelection and the recent budget battle, President Obama sounded confident and optimistic in tonight's State of the Union address. But the most powerful part of his address came at the very end, when he mentioned Hadiya Pendelton, the 15-year-old majorette who marched in the Inaugural parade -- and then was shot to death a week later in Chicago.
Hadiya's parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote. They deserve a simple vote.
Chills. This year, Congress will face a set of proposals, including universal background checks, closing of gun law loopholes, and measures to keep "weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets." If Gabby and Hadiya and everyone else really did have a vote, what do you think they would choose?
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"This is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence," Obama said. But, "this time is different." God, I hope so. If you peel back the angry rhetoric and take a cold, sober look at what the proposals are, you'll see a lot of common-sense ideas that almost all of us, gun owners included, should be able to agree on.
But right now Americans are mostly worried about the economy. Obama's priorities for the year are to get the minimum wage raised to $9.00 an hour, so working people can pull themselves out of poverty. He's also asking Congress to stave off the sequester cuts with $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction through $1.4 trillion in spending cuts and $600 billion in new tax revenue.
Oh, that's weird, THAT LOOKS LIKE COMPROMISE TO ME. I'm sure it'll get skewed by tomorrow morning to sound like liberal tax and spend and never mind about the $1.4 trillion in spending cuts, we'll just pretend he didn't say that because the Tea Party monster must be fed. Right?
But I'm getting cranky, and this speech had a much more optimistic tone. For example: The Senate passed the new violence against women act today! That's so exciting. Maybe Congress will do right by women for once and pass it -- I hope I hope I hope.
Bipartisan groups are working on immigration reform in both houses. YES! Obama says he'll sign it, just Get. It. Done. Investment in infrastructure -- yes! This gets people jobs and stimulates the economy. Win-win.
And because (again) we all deserve a vote, Obama has asked attorneys from Romney's and his own campaign to form an Election Review Task Force. I loved the story about 102-year-old Desiline Victor, who waited in line for three hours to vote. "Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her. Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read 'I Voted.'" Desiline got another standing ovation tonight.
And that's what this is all about. It's not about Obama. It's not about Republicans vs. Democrats. It's about us, our future, and how WE the people govern ourselves.
Did you listen to the State of the Union address tonight?
Image via Politico.com