This evening will be President Obama’s last State of the Union address.
The media has been full of summations, speculation, and punditry about the last seven years and the one remaining in the Obama presidency.
There have been major economic improvements. The unemployment rate is about half what it was. The US auto industry is doing well after almost going under in the financial crisis. The budget deficit is much lower than it was under the Bush administration.
Many more people have access to affordable health care insurance. The country is generating less pollution and more renewable energy.
There have been gains for diplomacy, such as the Iran nuclear deal and the recent international climate agreement in Paris.
These and other achievements will be remembered and studied by future students of history.
The tragedy is that so much more could have been accomplished if Congressional Republicans had decided to cooperate in governing rather than obstruct it.
There could have been needed tax reform, immigration reform, and criminal justice/sentencing reform.
There could have been mandated background checks for all gun purchases to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals, traffickers, and people intent on harming themselves or others, a measure that has overwhelming public support.
If the Congress would vote on the president’s nominations, there would have been a surgeon general in place during the ebola scare, a full complement of judges in the federal courts to deal with the backlog of cases, an ambassador to Russia during the Ukraine crisis, and a current ambassador to Mexico to work on the extradition of El Chapo to stand trial in the US.
The military prison at Guantanamo would have been closed.
There would have been greater progress on updating our crumbling infrastructure.
So much lost opportunity.
I hope that, as the United States progresses through this election year, we pledge to vote for elected officials who are dedicated to serve the common good, to “promote the general welfare”as it is termed in our Constitution.
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