President Obama demonstrated last night that it’s possible to promote an ambitious agenda for change without attacking or insulting proponents of the status quo.
He also reminded us of who we are, of what America stands for, and of how we can have a more responsive and effective government if our congressional representatives simply maintain a certain level of civility.
Unfortunately, instead of embracing the President’s message of civility and his call for members of both political parties to work together, the initial GOP responses delivered by Reps. Paul Ryan and Michele Bachmann of the Tea Party focused on partisan attacks, which I found confusing and surprising.
WATCH TODAY SHOW COVERAGE OF THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH:
One can only hope that members of both parties will follow the president’s lead and lay down their verbal barbs and focus on substantive debates that result in the actions that are required to move this country forward. As the president reminded us in a number of his points last night, we simply don’t have much time.
While the worst of the recession is apparently behind us, we are facing growing competition from China, India and many other countries around the world. We can maintain the status quo and let the jobs of the future go to developing countries. Or we can reinvest in ourselves by improving our education system and investing in the industries of the future to, as the president said, “win the future!”
“This is our Sputnik moment,” President Obama said. “We need to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world.”
This is a message the unemployed people of our nation needed to hear. But 21st century job opportunities in education, clean energy, communications and transportation won’t materialize if we simply slash budgets and take away the government funding that fuels world-class research and innovation — two priorities our president says will simulate the economy and job growth.
President Obama also reminded us that innovation is what Americans are famous for. He reminded us of the success of NASA’s space program and of how we developed the Internet. We needed to hear that. We needed to be reminded of the fact that America is known for innovation around the world.
But the president also reminded us that we can be successful only to the extent to which we are willing to reinvest in ourselves and in our country.
Do you really think America should take a back seat to any country when it comes to Internet access or that we should invest fewer dollars in our roads, bridges, rail lines and other infrastructure?
WATCH RACHEL MADDOW’S ANALYSIS OF OBAMA’S SPEECH HERE:
Hopefully, the GOP and others will come around and help the president develop a plan of action that results in measurable improvements in America’s innovation and competitiveness because that’s what will stimulate the long-term job growth our country so desperately needs. That is what the American people like me want and we need everyone in Congress to listen. Clearly, based on his comments and his tone, the president is listening.
Of course, both parties also have to work together to reduce federal spending. I was pleased to hear about the president’s plans to consolidate the federal government to make it more efficient. I am eager to hear the details about this and to see what else Democrats and Republicans propose to do to reduce the federal deficit because it will take both parties working together to make the deepest and most appropriate cuts.
At the end of the day, I found the president’s speech to be practical, helpful, encouraging and something that Congress can and should act on. The question is, will they? Clearly, much can be achieved if members of both parties simply try to match the president’s tone in his address last night. Let’s hope that members of Congress remember this in the hours, days, weeks and months ahead.