SOTU – A Different Annual Message

Now that President Biden’s State of the Union address has been dissected and both praised and denounced ad nauseam, below is a version by my fictional President Augustus Lincoln Treatise:

“Breaking once again with more than 110 years of tradition, within a few days after his election, Mr. Treatise gave his first State of the Union Address from McLean House, in the village of Appomattox Court House, Commonwealth of Virginia. As with his inauguration, Augustus selected this particular site for its historical value as background for his speech on American division and his call for national unity. He also selected the music with care. The opening tunes were The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie.

Two and a half centuries ago, colonial Americans were a divided people over the issue of taxation without representation. Eventually, they fought our first revolution and created our new nation with unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all persons.

More than one hundred sixty years ago, Americans were again a people divided as the institution of slavery fueled the War Between the States. That, our second revolution, pitted brother against brother, family against family, citizen against citizen, and state against state. When it was over, these United States retained the concept that our nation conceived in liberty was dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.

Unfortunately, we Americans are divided once more. We are separated by views about immigration, politics, political parties, social justice, race, religion, Roe v. Wade, sex, sexual orientation, wealth, and many other we-they examples too numerous to mention.

The root cause of such rupture is well known. Partial truths are divisive; comments out of context, destructive. Carefully chosen words that obfuscate facts are lying. The selective elimination of pertinent details a willful misrepresentation. These are sins of omission. All too often, the easier wrong is chosen instead of the harder right.

Founding Father George Washington is legend to have said, “I cannot tell a lie.” Savior of our nation Abraham Lincoln was called “Honest Abe.” Discourse must be truthful. As is stated in courtroom dramas, we must be willing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, warts and all. Failure to do so only feeds the continual distrustful narrative.

At this historic location General Ulysses S. Grant, representing Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, offered General Robert E. Lee, representing Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, what became regarded as the most generous terms of surrender ever conceived to end any war—the overriding principle that our divided nation must heal. Siblings were asked to set aside blue and grey rivalries. Families were asked to welcome returning kinfolk with open arms. Northerners and Southerners were asked to forgive fellow brethren.

Our third revolution has just begun—not with weapons of destruction, but with voices of reason. Now is the time and this is the place to begin a new dialogue of national unity. We must, as individuals from all walks in life, with unique experiences, and differing perspectives, as Americans devoted to the survival of one nation, our United States, accept the ideas of others with civility, self-awareness, and loving hearts. We must listen and eliminate our predisposition to judge. We must converse, not argue. We must respect, not hate. We must learn the positive attributes of others and acknowledge they contribute to our country’s greatness.

We must resolve our differences regarding: the nation’s budget, debt, and deficit; climate change, energy use, and their environmental impact; the disposition of nuclear waste; health care; the homeless and drug abuse; judicial equality, reforming law enforcement and the Supreme Court; creation of jobs and fair taxes; sustainment of Social Security; immigration; and how to deal with international adversaries. These and other challenges, I will address throughout my administration.

I ask all Americans to join in this national effort. Only with open minds can we break the irksome barriers to understanding and, as freedom-loving people, unite once again. Should we not do these things, then we will continue to be a house divided that will surely perish from the earth.

After his presentation, the closing song was This Land Is Your Land.”

(From “President You” by Tom Williams, All Wet Publishing, LLC © 2019)

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