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President Joe Biden’s March 1 State of the Union address — his first in office — will be remembered as an impassioned speech that started off by condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin for attacking Ukraine while calling for common sense progress here in the United States.
This address came during a time of extreme international turmoil; Biden and the rest of the world came together in an act of solidarity to punish Putin and his enablers for their invasion of Ukraine.
The world is facing countless converging crises that require bold leadership, and Biden displayed that he is the man for this moment. His address started with the recognition of the historic diplomacy that took place to punish Putin’s shameful advance into Ukraine. The orchestration of international diplomacy that took place this past week was one of Biden’s finest hours and will go down as a significant part of his presidential legacy.
“Biden’s speech was a smorgasbord of foreign policy, domestic policy and even a unity agenda: four policy areas that should be easy for every American to get behind.”
For those who watch Biden speak regularly, this was a much more high-energy presentation. It is moments like these — when real leadership and passion are needed — that Biden excels.
In a rare moment of bipartisanship — something that doesn’t happen often during the pageantry of the State of the Union — Republicans, who were initially critical of Biden’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stood and applauded the president when he talked about America’s joint response with the West as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This was one of the few times when the Republican side of the aisle would stand and offer the president praise, even though Biden gave them plenty to applaud.
Biden’s speech was a smorgasbord of foreign policy, domestic policy and even a unity agenda: four policy areas that should be easy for every American to get behind. The unity agenda includes tackling the opioid epidemic, addressing mental health in kids, increasing services for the nation’s veterans and researching an end to cancer.
After Biden thoroughly discussed what has been done to address the Russian invasion and what is being done to further punish Russia, like seizing assets of Russian oligarchs, Biden transitioned into domestic policy achievements, of which he has plenty for his first year in office.
Biden touted the passing of the American Rescue Plan and the work it did to help working people, which was a sharp contrast to the first legislative accomplishment of the previous administration — a $2 trillion tax cut that helped those at the top of the economy.
The American Rescue Plan was a lifeline for working families, struggling business and state and local governments. Through the Child Tax Credit, child poverty in America dropped by about 30%. As Biden said, “the American Rescue Plan helped working people — and left no one behind.”
“It can be hard to feel optimistic given the current state of the world, but Biden’s steady leadership has led the U.S. to a better post-pandemic life, with cases reaching new lows and employment rates skyrocketing.”
Biden’s State of the Union address was refreshing in that it did not feel like a campaign speech but instead an actual update on the state of America. It was not full of false promises; it gave a vision of what Congress can do to improve the lives of Americans from passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act to the bipartisan innovation act.
While Biden touched on a lot of important policy areas, his speech barely mentioned the climate crisis, arguably one of the most pressing issues that America faces. The State of the Union is the pinnacle of presidential speeches, and it would have been an excellent time to talk more about the climate crisis to the 38 million people who tuned in.
The president, who has made numerous promises when it comes to fighting climate change, only mentioned the climate crisis in an indirect way, when he mentioned how fighting it would create millions of well-paying jobs.
Biden ended the speech by stating that the state of the union was strong because the American people are strong. Biden also said that he has never been more optimistic about the future of the country than he is right now.
It can be hard to feel optimistic given the current state of the world, but Biden’s steady leadership has led the U.S. to a better post-pandemic life, with cases reaching new lows and employment rates skyrocketing.
Reach Michael Stella at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Michaelstella_.