Did you catch the State of the Union last night? I watched it while I cooked some lunch for the rest of the week. I’m one of those people who cooks and eats the same thing for lunch every day. Wonder what that says about me.
When politics are at the doorstep, they usually travel with an entourage of agenda and spin. Well, I went into the speech with my own agenda. I wanted to listen to the rhetorical elements.
(I know. I’m an English teacher. That’s why)
I’m a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin’s show The West Wing, and I just finished the episode 100,000 Airplanes, the episode in the 3rd season where Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) gives his ex-fiance a run-down on how the communication department works as a team to create that perfect speech. It is a fascinating episode that shows how they gather ideas, find inspiration from other texts, and employ the right buzzwords in the right places to get that perfect reaction.
With everything that goes into it, all the words, all the notes, all the jabs, all the punches…it all starts with a white sheet of paper. I thought the speech was sound. There were aspects of it that praised the past seven-and-a-half years as well as some portions encouraging the country to continue the journey. It mentioned President Obama’s favorite word, change. Hot topics like immigration and debt and terrorism were all present as well. All the parts were present.
Now You’re Speakin’ My Language
I noticed that place was filled with people in nice clothes. There were old people, young people (one kid was napping in his Pop’s lap), White people, Black people, Christian people, Muslim people, Republican people, Democratic people, career politicians, and newbies. Some clapped. Some stood. Some pouted. Some even walked out.
If you want to catch commentary on whether President Obama’s speech was any good, you can find that all over the place. I would like to note that I was a Political Science major for an entire semester at Ole Miss. That being said, I have my own opinions, but I like to keep my politics to myself. But what I did catch was the unspoken rules and regulations present.
You cheer when the right words are spoken and jeer when the wrong words are spoken.
I love those YouTube clips where a group alters the name on political literature or asks people to define aspects of their political party preference and are met with really bad answers. Too many times people don’t have the slightest clue what they’re talking about. They know two things:
My Party, good. Other Party, bad.
You Talkin’ to Me?
I wonder how many of us would be good attendees. Would you be willing to have a camera on you, cheering for what you believe to be right? Would you wager public shame to put your alleged political affiliation on display for the entire country to see?
The broadcast showed members of congress who spanned the spectrum of facial expressions, and I had no idea whether they were for or against the comment. The only way I knew said members probably were for a comment was when a D showed up next to their name. One guy looked utterly opposed to a comment, but I guess he was for it since the president is part of his party (or is it the other way around?).
For us to actually have any idea on whether we are allowed to cheer or not, we would have to actually know the issues at hand. So many will cheer when a Republican says, “This” or a Democrat says, “That.” Not too many know where they stand.
I sure hope no one sticks a camera in my face and asks how I feel about Hillary Clinton’s stance on banning all Muslims from entering the country or Donald Trump’s socialistic approach to wealth redistribution. I might give the wrong answer (which would be the right answer) or the right answer (which would be the wrong answer). Either way, I’m willing to bet the average voter would not even listen to the question or the answer.
They’d reply in their best Larry the Cable Guy accent…
“This thing multiple choice?”