By Erin Hannon
Jan. 12, President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address. The speech was held in the House of Representatives and was broadcast live on national television. President Obama used this opportunity to discuss his accomplishments while in office and also to share his advice for the future.
His speech addressed both the ups and downs throughout his terms as president. One of his biggest successes was improving America’s economy. Obama started his presidency by dealing with the “Great Recession.” Since then, the GDP increased, while unemployment decreased, demonstrating how far the economy has come since Obama’s term began.
Yet, Obama did not just discuss the highlights from his term, he also discussed the disappointments. Obama shared that his biggest frustration, by far, was the increase in the tension and rancor between the political parties. However, President Obama also promised to use his remaining time in office efficiently. He shared his goals and hopes for the future, specifically in encouraging the increased funding for clean energy and technology.
In his address, Obama also called for campaign finance reform, stating that political power should not just be in the hands of wealthy companies and businesses. Campaign finance reform would help limit the influence of these companies by regulating the amount of money they can give to a candidate.
With the primary elections nearing, Obama’s comments about campaign reform come at a significant time. On Feb. 1, Iowa will hold the first caucus, followed by New Hampshire, which will hold the first primary elections on Feb 9. These elections will decide which candidates will represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the final presidential election.
The Republican Party still has 12 potential candidates hoping to receive the official party nomination. Donald Trump remains popular, however, he is beginning to face steep competition from the other candidates including Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio.
The Democratic Party has narrowed down the candidate pool to just three politicians, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Mally. While Hillary began the nomination race looking like the clear winner, Bernie Sanders has continued to gain popularity. Originally seen as the improbable winner, Sanders has come a long way and is now leading polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.
With no clear winner in either party, both the Democrats and the Republicans have a long way to go before Election Day next November.