Time to Overhaul the State of the Union?


A lot of people seem to think that President Obama’s State of the Union address was a home run last night.

But I wonder if the “symbols of the ceremony” outweighed the words. Especially for middle-income Americans, with whom the president and his staff are trying to reconnect.

Among the flurry of tweets that caught my eye last evening: “Tell Congress to stop clapping and standing, and start working and delivering.”

People have lost trust in our government. They are tired of bellicose bi-partisan behavior. And yet we continue to put on the same annual show, complete with cheers and jeers, back slaps and brickbats, and lapdoggish autograph hounds.

I can’t help to think that there wasn’t a widow in Peoria and a hardware store owner in Poughkeepsie who weren’t thinking: “Man, these people have lost touch.” (I am really starting to hate that whole “single mom from Montana” rhetorical device.)

So what if we changed all that. No fancy chamber. No walk up the aisle. No lavender-clad VP and Speaker of the House staring at me, uncomfortably, for more than an hour.

What if the president spoke to a group of real people instead? And what if he focused on a single issue—jobs, let’s say—and used another medium or forum for the balance of kitchen-sink SOTU platitudes?

And what if we actually used some 21st century media technology to bring some of these issues and potential solutions into sharper focus?

In other words, what if we truly overhauled the State of the Union? And not just the address.