President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing new. As all politicians do, he called attention to a few high points of the past year, but primarily focused on the future, laying out a fresh list of promises that few people truly believe he can make good on.
The President took aim at Big Business, especially the medical and insurance industries, blasting them for making record profits while average Americans struggle. What is more interesting is that he went on to warn Congress that now is not the time to gut funding for medical research that helps to save lives. We have to wonder if the President is aware of how much of those record profits the medical industry invests in just the kind of medical research he wants to protect.
The real issue here, though, is not the specifics of where certain money is being spent, but rather an entire political philosophy. When the President suggests that high profits for private companies can actually have a negative impact on society, and that any reduction in government-funded research is unacceptable, he is implicitly saying that the responsibility to do such research should be entrusted to the government rather than those private companies. It would be better, in his mind, for the medical industry to hand over more of its profits to the government (paying more of their fair share, as it were) so that the government can do more of the same work that the medical industry is already doing. I’m not arguing here that this is either good or bad. The President’s underlying philosophy could be right. I merely point it out because, sadly, the underlying philosophies of our politicians are rarely scrutinized and examined in light of other issues, which often leads to confused voters and even more confused politicians.
An excellent example of this political schizophrenia came from two of the President’s more praiseworthy statements. In his best line of the night the President said, “What makes a man is not the ability to conceive a child, but the courage to raise a child.” He went on to say that our rights as individuals are always wrapped up in the rights of others, highlighting the importance of community and cooperation. Taken alone, these statements are excellent and any Christian on the conservative side of the spectrum ought to be able to endorse them wholeheartedly. What may seem puzzling to some, then, is the President’s radical Pro-Choice agenda and his newfound but staunch support for gay marriage.
President Obama rightly acknowledged that a stable family structure is best not only economically, but also for raising healthy and productive children. The redefinition of marriage is at odds with this truth. In every nation that has officially redefined marriage on a large scale, marriage is disappearing.
More important is the issue of abortion. How can you hope to encourage young men to think of fatherhood as something that requires courage when all the consequences and “dangers” of sex and pregnancy are so easily removed, and with no remorse? When you continue to push the “easy way out” on the one hand, any calls for courage on the other hand ring hallow.
Moreover, why is radical individualism only a bad thing, and why are the rights of others only important, when it comes to gun control or higher taxes? Why does the President not chide the radical individualism of the successful businesswoman who seeks an abortion because a child is simply inconvenient at the moment? Why is she not to be reminded that her rights are tied up in the rights of others, necessarily limiting her choices?
Again, our current way of political discourse in America is not set up to handle these underlying philosophical questions, so I don’t place all blame upon the President or his party. Mr. Obama may be wrong, but Conservatives and Christians in the media are failing to say so in an intelligent and persuasive manner. We are all caught up in the culture of soundbites and shouting matches. Worse yet, when we finally do tire of this unhelpful bickering, we retreat into the amusement of trivialities. Senator Marco Rubio delivered a winsome, articulate, and at times passionate response to President Obama’s address on Tuesday night. All day Wednesday, the biggest topic of discussion was Rubio’s 3-second, awkward reach-and-sip from a mini water bottle. This mildly humorous non-event has received more attention than anything the President said in his speech. That’s a sad statement.
I don’t exactly know where to go from here. But I do believe that if conservatives and independents start demanding more thoughtfulness from their representatives while refusing to reward the escalating “cycle of soudbites”, things can only change for the better.
You can start right now by NOT posting that angry knee-jerk response to your brother-in-law’s annoying Facebook post.