President Obama began his speech by quoting President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who said fifty-one years ago, in the same chamber that "the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress. It is my task to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.”
President Obama added that there was "much progress to report." War is coming to an end. The "grueling recession" is coming to an end, as "businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before."
President Obama then declared that "the state of our union is stronger."
One of the strongest points made by President Obama was on the issue of gun control, calling on the Congress to bring the issue to the floor of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, declaring that America "deserves a vote."
The issue of gun violence has become a burning issue in America, with the shootings at Newtown and the continuing violence in the streets of Chicago, including nearby the Obama home in Chicago.
Robin Kelly, the leading candidate in the 2nd Illinois Congressional District race, has brought "gun violence" to the forefront and it has propelled Kelly onto the national stage on this issue. Robin Kelly was invited to the State of the Union, as reported earlier by the White House Press Examiner, at the United States Capitol as a guest of Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who himself lost a son to gun violence in 1999 on the streets of Chicago. His colleague, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), recently endorsed Robin Kelly's campaign for Congress in IL-02 on the strength of her strong stand on gun violence.
Robin Kelly said in a statement released by the campaign that it was an honor to be in the House chamber for President Obama's State of the Union address. "The President made a thoughtful and compelling case for how to solve our country’s most pressing problems. Seeing the many families of victims of gun violence who were in the House chamber tonight was a powerful, emotional reminder of the importance of making our communities and our children safer. Tonight, our President said, 'They deserve a vote.' I look forward to being one of those votes in Congress for his common sense plan to reduce gun violence.”
In addition to Rep. Bobby Rush's invitation of Robin Kelly, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) also gave one of his guest tickets to the State of the Union to a victim of gun violence in a show of strength in favor of stricter gun control laws. Twelve other Congressmen did the same, all Democrats.
"It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different," President Obama declared. "Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun."
The issue of universal background checks while opposed by the leadership of the National Rifle Association (NRA), is supported overwhelmingly by the rank-and-file members of the NRA. Universal background checks also enjoy a 90%+ approval rating by the American people.
In President Obama's most emotional moments he declared that "Each of these proposals 'deserves a vote' in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals 'deserve a vote.' Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."
He then turned his attention to his home city of Chicago and talked about the murder from guns and gang violence of Hadiya Pendelton. "One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house."
He pointed to Hadiya’s parents and said that "Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence."
Declaring that they "deserve a vote."
He said that Gabby Giffords "deserve a vote."
He said that the families of Newtown "deserve a vote."
The families of Aurora "deserve a vote."
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they "deserve a simple vote."
President Obama acknowledged that "actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country."
He again declared that America "deserves a vote."
It is the least that America and the Congress can do.
Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.