Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The year 2014 is barely a month old. As an optimist by heart, I am still trying to hold on to the hope inspired by the start of a brand new year. I am still looking for the signs of positive change in our state, in our nation and in our world. This past week, however, as I watched some of our national moments unfold, I have to admit that I experienced some dismay.
Like countless other Americans, I watched the State of the Union Address, and later read the transcript on line. Each year, when I watch this speech, I am usually patriotically inspired and encouraged to reach for greater excellence as a citizen of the United States of America. This year, however, I was immediately struck by the dis-unity within the ranks of our leaders.
Division and gridlock has gotten so much worse that even the façade of unity was lacking, as our national leaders were seated, segregated by political party and persuasion. Where was the promise of working together for the greater good the American people? Where were the progressive steps forward towards greater unity? Where was the laying aside of extreme differences for the sake of accomplishment? What has happened to the UNITED States of America?
Early in his remarks, President Obama said:
“After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth. The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It’s an important debate – one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy – when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States – then we are not doing right by the American people.”