Mills students and professors who watched the State of the Union address on Feb. 12, where President Obama touched on a wide variety of issues that he hopes to address in his second term of service, were not surprised or inspired by the speech.
Some of the Mills community felt that touching on every topic was too broad and inclusive.
Obama’s speech was broadcast live on 15 networks with an average audience of 33.5 million viewers, 18.9 million fewer than his first STOU address as President in 2009 where 52.3 million watched, according to a rating company that measures media consumption in the US and globally called Nielsen.
English major Terrilynn Cantlon felt the low viewership was indicative of a large-scale weariness of partisan politics on the part of the American people.
“People have unfortunately tuned it out, but these are some of the most important decisions we are going to make,” Cantlon said. “I think there is a certain fatigue that people have with politics right at the moment. That’s why people are tuning it out.”
Public Policy professor Carol Chetkovich thought one possible reason for this fatigue could be because the State of the Union address was just too broad.
“It’s difficult to deliver a great speech without a focal point, and the State of the Union address seems to be particularly challenging for the apparent need to mention so many topics and to try to appeal to so many constituencies,” Chetkovich said.
Government professor Paul Schulman saw Obama’s broad range of topics as more of a campaign than a plan of action.
“The state of the union speech was closer to a campaign or movement speech than a traditional state of the union address,” Schulman said in an email.
But some students and faculty felt that Obama did address topics they felt were important.
For example, Cantlon was concerned that the possible sequester, which forces extensive and mandatory cuts in expending if congress does not reach a budget agreement, would trigger a couple trillion dollars in automatic budget cuts.
“These cuts are going to be devastating to our economy, creating that same sort of situation where we are expecting some sort of miracle to pull us all through,” Cantlon said.
Audrey Caravas, second year graduate student in Public Policy, liked that the president was calling for non-partisan politics.
Schulman had a similar view.
“I think the President hopes that a renewal of liberalism itself into a governing philosophy with a supporting political ‘regime’ will be his lasting legacy,” Schulman said.
Though the range of topics in the Presidents speech was broad, Obama addressed the sense that the US is drifting from one crisis to the next without any issues getting resolved.
In his speech Obama said, “The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.”
Chetkovich on the other hand wasn’t convinced with the President’s broad approach.
“I wanted to agree, but wasn’t persuaded.”