“(The President) shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient… .”
As stated in Article II, Section III, Clause I of the Constitution of the United States of America, the president is mandated to report to Congress from time to time on the state of our nation. The State of the Union address is an opportunity for the president to stand before Congress and the American people to discuss significant events that have evolved during the past year and where he believes we stand as a nation. However, the noble purpose of the State of the Union has given way to political pageantry and an hour-long wish list of new government programs to cure the nation’s ills. The State of the Union address should be utilized to honestly update the public on just that — where we are as a country.
In Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 State of the Union address, he spoke of the freedom of slaves as a “fiery trial” that would lead our nation to honor or dishonor from future generations. James Polk essentially kicked off the Gold Rush in December of 1848 by declaring the discovery of gold in California. Bill Clinton stated in his 1996 address that the era of big government was over and that “we must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face.” That statement still rings true, as we face new divisive problems today.
This year’s State of the Union address offers President Obama another opportunity to be upfront with Americans. What did we accomplish in 2013? Are we better off than we were one year ago? When can Americans choose their own healthcare? When will he finally approve the northern leg Keystone XL pipeline? Will he roll back federal regulations to return power to the states? Will he work to address the struggling families and fledgling economy of our nation, or just offer them a government check?
Our Republic is worth saving. But the problems we face today will not be solved with yet another speech or federal program. It would be wise for President Obama to look to Ronald Reagan’s final State of the Union address in which he said, “If anyone expects just a proud recitation of the accomplishments of my administration, I say let’s leave that to history; we’re not finished yet. So my message to you tonight is, put on your work shoes — we’re still on the job.”
I represent the people of the Fifth District of Oklahoma. We are united as a community, as a state and as a nation to fight for our values. For three years I have attended the State of the Union address on their behalf, hearing the speech through their ears and seeing the issues through their eyes. For any American it is a humbling and honorable event. This year — as all others — while I sit on the House floor and listen to the State of the Union address, I will pray that President Obama does not take the task of delivering his address lightly. I hope he uses this opportunity to actually articulate the state of the union, not the state of his political agenda.
U.S. REP. JAMES LANKFORD, R-Edmond, represents Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District. He announced last week that he will seek election in 2014 to U.S. Senate, vyng for Sen. Tom Coburn’s soon-to-be-open seat.