For the past six years, many liberals have been wondering where the President Obama elected in 2008 had gone. Where was the “Hope and Change,” the “Yes We Can!” Obama we fell in love with so many years ago? During last night’s State of the Union address, he finally resurfaced.
“Tonight, we turn the page,” said Obama. “The shadow of crisis has passed. The state of the union is strong.”
Among the proposals mentioned by the president were a plan for free community college for two years, paid leave, an increase in the minimum wage, and closing the wage gap between male and female workers.
“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” Obama said. “We need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm.”
“Today, we’re the only advanced country on earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” he continued. “And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.”
Addressing the desperate need for a raise in the minimum wage, Obama told the members of Congress opposed to the increase, “If you truly believe you could work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”
President Obama also focused on issues women face in the workforce, telling Congress that it “still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time.”
“It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a woman’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” he said, noting that in many households, both parents are working full time.
And for the first time ever in a State of the Union address, the lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities were recognized.
“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained,” Obama said. “That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.”
Declaring marriage a “civil right,” Obama said that America’s “journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Welcome back, 2008 Obama. You’ve been missed.
Read the full transcript of the 2015 State of the Union Address here.