MY FELLOW AMERICANS: THE STATE OF THE UNION IS . . . WELL, KIND OF SCARY
TO THE READER: The only thing more boring and pretentious than the annual State of the Union address is a writer telling the President of the United States what she/he should say. Listen, folks, I’m not telling you anything your don’t know: writers aren’t elected; they can’t run things; they don’t know diddly. And yet they can’t seem to help themselves. Because of that darned First Amendment, I can’t do anything about this monstrosity by the guy who writes this blog. I can only beg you to exercise your free will and change the channel, raid the refrigerator or walk the dog: just don’t read any further.
– Joe Biden
MADAM SPEAKER, Madam Vice President, Members of the Supreme Court, my friends on all sides of the aisle and in both chambers of the Congress of the United States; my fellow Americans and all of our fighting men and women serving throughout the globe (but not in Ukraine).
I am here to tonight to tell you that the State of the Union is ….
Well, before I get into that, I’d like to say something to members of Congress. In my long career, I’ve sat where you are sitting. And tonight, I want you to do just that: stay in those cushy seats. Don’t stand up, then sit down, then stand up, then sit down. It’s silly. It’s embarrassing, to me, to Americans and to other the nations. Besides, few of you are going to like what I’m going to say.
What did I just tell you? Sit down. And shut up!
Now, where was I?
What was that, Madam Speaker? Yes, thank you for reminding me. The annual State of the Union address. I’ve got it right here in front of me….
MY FELLOW AMERICANS, I am here tonight to report to you that the state of the union is …
Uncertain. Perilous. Endangered.
Only a little more than a year ago, in this very chamber, in one of the most hallowed buildings of our great nation, vandals, rioters and thugs tried to overthrow the peaceful transfer of power, something never attempted in the history of our great nation.
Some of them dressed up in silly costumes; some defecated on marble floors; others used the sacred American flag as a weapon; smashed windows; overpowered police; chanted about hanging the vice president; broke into the Speaker’s offices; and caused the death of Capitol police officers.
And some of you sitting in this very place shamed America by saying that these insurrectionists, these traitors, these defilers of the Constitution were just ordinary tourists, or petitioners expressing their lawful right to protest. Shame on you. You could have been wounded or killed. And yet you sided with the marauders.
The threat to our democracy did not end on Jan. 6, ladies and gentlemen. The former President of the United States, my predecessor, a man who has stood before you on this very same occasion four times, defiled the most hallowed concept of our republic: the outcome of the election. This sore loser continues to promote his Big Lie, including the absurd contradiction that the same election, which put you in the seats that you're sitting in tonight, was stolen from him - and only him.
This man is a traitor, a hoodlum, a usurper, and yet many of you in this room are afraid to speak the truth. Instead, you repeat his Big Lie; refuse to take part in an investigation to hold him accountable; and you work day in and day out to defeat bills that would protect our democratic processes.
What are you thinking?
ACROSS THIS GREAT COUNTRY, in state house after state house, legislators are working to change laws so that that millions of voters will find it harder, if not impossible, to cast ballots, and that after election day, partisans can manipulate election outcomes with which they disagree.
It seems impossible, doesn’t it.?These things belong in a truly terribly written political novel, so fantastical that no publisher would cause it to be printed.
But they are happening.
Democracy in America is on trial, tonight. And the prospects for a positive outcome are not at all assured.
DEMOCRACY IS ALSO in jeopardy across the globe.
In Ukraine, that fledgling and brave democracy is being overrun by the armies of a cynical and cruel dictator, who in the process of murdering hundreds of civilians and driving hundreds of thousands more from their homes, is threatening to unleash nuclear weapons.
And yet some of you in this room praise Vladimir Putin, and that former president, my predecessor, praises him as smart and cunning and strong. Imagine supporting a monster, who earlier interfered with our own elections, and now would threaten the survival of civilization by starting a nuclear holocaust.
There are concerning issues here at home. Inflation, the highest in decades, is undermining the finances of millions of American households. If we are gaining on the Covid pandemic, the disease is still killing thousands of our mothers, fathers, children, grandfathers and grandmothers, and children may have lost forever key portions of their educations.
Thousands of Americans have no homes, and millions of others use far to many of the their hard-earned dollars to pay ever higher rents. Home ownership, once the centerpiece of the American dream, is now a fantasy for many families whose living standards will never equal those of their parents.
Race remains the central sin of American society. We have fought our bloodiest war, demonstrated in the streets, enacted laws and yet we are still mired in hatred and violence because not all of us look the same.
Our gravest danger is a changing environment, caused by man-made gasses, and which already has unleashed Biblical wildfires, hurricanes, floods and rising sea levels. And yet the nations of the world, our own included, do almost nothing to reverse this catastrophe.
SO, MY FELLOW AMERICANS, the state of the union is indeed uncertain, perilous, endangered.
But ours also is a time of great hope. And opportunity.
This is a unique moment in history when we can accomplish great things.
Of all nations, we are far from helpless. To the contrary, our heritage is one of great deeds, inspired ideas, remarkable innovation and miraculous invention. It is our optimism that draws people to our shores and calls generation after generation to reform and improve America.
We have it in our power to defend and protect democracy, to rejuvenate our economy, to oppose dictators abroad and authoritarians at home. We can slow and reverse climate changes. We can defeat racism and hatred.
None of this is easy. But all of it is possible.
Look, folks, democracy is unsettling, unruly and frustrating. But it is also thrilling, exciting and exhilarating.
We are a free people, and because we vote, we have choices.
It is our privilege, in this time and in this place, to be the custodians of the means bequeathed by our forefathers and mothers to create the kind of society envisioned in the Declaration of Independence and in an evolving Constitution.
So tonight, my fellow Americans, it is my great honor to report to you on the state of our nation.
And it is this:
The state of the nation is in your hands.
BRIAN C. JONES