The State of the Union tradition arises from the following line in Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution, “He shall, from time-to-time, give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” While not required to deliver a formal speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made at least one State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report. Since the advent of radio, and then television, the speech has been broadcast live on most networks.
George Washington delivered the first regular annual message before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1790. However, in 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical (how prophetic, given our current ruler). Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk and this practice was followed until the early 20th century.
How I wish that were still the case. Even better, in our age of technology, just post the text version of the #SOTU online so we can read it in our Facebook news feeds or from a link on Twitter. Instead, we are going to be made to sit through a cacophony of over-the-top applause from the sycophants, arms-folded scowls from the obstinate and circus-like chicanery from the leads of both the House and Senate. We might as well queue up our favorite calliope music to play in the background the entire time the speech is going.
We are going to be treated to well over an hour of promises, edicts, vehement calls for change and a showcase of biological props in the gallery to illustrate all of the points being sold by the President of the United States of America. We then have to sit through the minority response, the alternative response, the off-the-beaten path response and the ever elusive who-gives-a-damn response. THEN we get to sit through hour after hour of political analysis. We’ll have the propagandist wing of the Democrat party, aka the Mainstream Media, telling us how brilliant and amazing the speech was. Turn a channel or two either way and you’ll have the opposite view doing their best to convince the audience that the president has sealed his fate as a lame-duck and has dug a near insurmountable hole for any potential Democrat presidential candidates.
Which brings me around to the point of today’s blog. If we must be forced to deal with this travesty of what our Founding Father’s envisioned, many have devised coping mechanisms to get us through tonight’s ridiculous display. Let’s all play the #SOTUdrinkinggame! Take a moment before tonight’s speech and come up with a list of terms/phrases/words that you believe will be used over and over again. Anytime you hear the #POTUS (President of the United States) utter anything on your list, take a drink. Here’s a partial list of what I plan to use tonight:
Words/phrases that result in taking a shot
- Any use of: fair, fair share, equal or leveling the playing field
- It’s time to help the middle class
- Need to reduce income inequality
- Declares victory on the state of the economy thanks to my policies
- Under my policies, unemployment continues to drop
- It’s time to Increase the minimum wage
- Global warming remains our top concern (or, 2014 was the hottest year ever)
- ISIL (pronounced – Eye-sill)
- Islam is a peaceful religion
- The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam
- Charlie Hebdo (this may actually be worth two shots)
- Affordable Care Act is working
- Immigration reform/Dream Act
- Free college
- Any mention of someone who wrote him a letter or sent him an email
- For each guest invited by the administration who is called out in the gallery
Items that require a shot:
- For every 10 uses of the word, “I”
- For every 10 uses of the word, “Me”
- For every 10 uses of the word, “My”
- For every 10 uses of the workd, “Mine”
There was a time when the State of the Union had it’s purpose, but that has long since been forgotten under the heavily crafted showmanship it has become. Under our current administration, it might as well be named the State of the Fundamental Transformation of America, since this president has no problem enforcing parts of laws he likes, changing parts he doesn’t and ignoring others as he deigns unnecessary. It’s like the worries of Thomas Jefferson have come to life with this Administration when they made it clear they came to rule and not to govern.
Some final thoughts before tonight
There are some subjects the President will not touch. He will not acknowledge the Republican tidal wave during this past mid-term election (I’d be shocked if he does). He will not mention the continued success of Governor Scott Walker’s conservative policies in Wisconsin. He will not mention that, despite his policies, the success of frakking on private lands is what has led OPEC to drop the price of a barrel of oil by such a degree that many states are seeing gasoline prices below $2.00 a gallon. He cannot afford to shed any light on policies that succeeded to which he is diametrically opposed. He will not waste a single breath on reducing the size of government. He may say he has a plan to reduce the debt, but when you go through the litany of new programs he plans to offer, it won’t take a mathematician to realize it’s just another lie meant to placate the low-information voter. He will play to emotions, but will not once employ logic. He will pull at the heartstrings, but he will not apply reason. In short, he will pander to his followers like the Pied Piper, playing a mesmerizing message to those who want nothing more than to be lied to and told, “Everything will be all right as long as you believe in the power of government.”
And for that reason, I’ll be playing the #SOTUdrinkinggame with much gusto. It’s about the only way I’ll be able to make it to the end.