What the world thinks of Trump Voters

This great video sums up the thoughts of so many voters that were shocked that Donald Trump won. Things have somehow progressed well beyond basic policy ideas. They have transcended into basic human rights and decency. This quick video does a great job of summing up our thoughts.

 

 

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Credit: Tess Rafferty.
Video shared by Occupy Democrats

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President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address

people-politico-2014-state-of-the-unionThe 2014 State of the Union Address was a good one where President Obama pointed out the many hard fought improvements during the previous year of his administration. Many of which fell short of the original promise, but there was progress to be had. Progress was made in spite of efforts of the GOP, which has stuck to their hard line mantra of opposing President Obama and democrats no matter what the particular issue of the day is. President Obama’s displeasure with the lack of cooperation and compromise rose up a few times during the State of the Union address. To this President Obama boldly said that he will no longer wait for the cooperation and compromise from the GOP if there were not obvious signs they would support an initiative. It has become painfully obvious to everyone that the core of Republicans still have no intention of changing. In a response to the GOP’s obstructionism President Obama said he will now take executive actions when and where he is able.

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I think it would be great to get our lagging nation the much needed boost it needs. Real action to rekindle the hopes of prosperity in this country through wage increases, pay equality, increasing jobs, paths to citizenship, and the overall fair and equal treatment of all Americans. Since the GOP has one goal, to obstruct the Obama Administration whenever possible, Executive Actions will be nice to see better progress and fair treatment of people in America.

On the other hand it both horrifies and sickens me that our government is so broken that it has to come to Executive Actions to accomplish some of the most basic and simple functions of our government. President George W Bush really brought Executive Actions to the fore front. Now President Obama feels he has to use these to accomplish the things that this country needs.  However, I don’t think two wrongs make a right. But I do understand that the GOP has left the President little choice.

Unfortunately there is little sign that the degradation of our government is slowing. So until many more Americans get involved and invested in our government there is little hope of it changing for the better to actually serve the American people.

A great place to start learning and investing in the US Government that will dictate the quality of our lives is the State of the Union Address. It is a summary of the last year and an action plan for the year ahead. It is similar to a compass you need to use to navigate the wilderness. Use the State of the Union Address to help you get a direction of what and where our government hopes to go in the coming year. Then follow the direction in which it goes. Then participate, stay informed through multiple sources, discuss with others, and most importantly vote at the end of the year to help our government continue moving down the path of making America better.

Here’s to another year of trying to make America and all of it’s people better!

2014 State of the Union Full Length Video

Full Transcript of the 2014 State of the Union Address

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans, today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest levels in more than three decades.

An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup and did her part to add to the more than 8 million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years. (Applause.)

An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.

A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history.

A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. (Applause.) A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities all across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades and give thanks for being home from a war that after twelve long years is finally coming to an end. (Applause.)

Tonight this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong. (Applause.)

And here are the results of your efforts: the lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market — (applause) — a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s — (applause) — more oil produced — more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years — (applause) — our deficits cut by more than half; and for the first time — (applause) — for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.

(Cheers, applause.) That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.

The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It’s an important debate — one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy — when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States — then we are not doing right by the American people. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, as president, I’m committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here. And I believe most of you are, too. Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans,Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way.

But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

And in the coming months — (applause) — in the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want, for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all, the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead in America. (Applause.)

Now, let’s face it: That belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

So our job is to reverse these trends.

It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.

But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. (Applause.) So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do. (Cheers, applause.)

As usual, our first lady sets a good example. Michelle’s — (applause) — well. (Chuckles.) (Cheers, applause.) Yeah. Michelle’s Let’s Move! partnership with schools, businesses, local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years, and that’s an achievement — (applause) — that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come. The Joining Forces alliance that Michelle and Jill Biden launched has already encouraged employers to hire or train nearly 400,000 veterans and military spouses. (Applause.)

Taking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit, where already 150 universities, businesses, nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education and to help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus.

And across the country — (applause) — we’re partnering with mayors, governors and state legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality.

The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That’s what drew our forebears here. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker — (applause) — how the son of a barkeeper is speaker of the House — (cheers, applause) — how the son of a single mom can be president of the greatest nation on Earth. (Cheers, applause.)

Now — (sustained cheers and applause) — opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation must be to restore that promise.

We know where to start. The best measure of opportunity is access to a good job. With the economy picking up speed, companies say they intend to hire more people this year.

And over half of big manufacturers say they’re thinking of insourcing jobs from abroad. (Applause.)

So let’s make that decision easier for more companies. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home. (Cheers, applause.)

Moreover, we can take the money we save from this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes — because in today’s global economy, first- class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. We’ll need Congress to protect more than 3 million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer. (Cheers, applause.) That can happen.

But — but I’ll act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. (Applause.)

We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. And my administration’s launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Youngstown, Ohio, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.

Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So, get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work. (Applause.)

Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.” (Applause.)

Listen, China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines; and neither — neither should we. We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. And that’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery. (Cheers, applause.)

There are entire industries to be built based on vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation. (Applause.)

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The “all the above” energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

One of the reasons why is natural gas. If extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. (Applause.) Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. (Applause.)

Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. (Applause.)

Now, it’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar too.

Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do. (Cheers, applause.)

And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

And taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. (Applause.)

But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.

The shift — (applause) — the shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way.

But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Cheers, applause.)

Finally, if we’re serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system. (Cheers, applause.) Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted, and I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let’s get immigration reform done this year. (Cheers, applause.) Let’s get it done. It’s time.

The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs. But in this rapidly-changing economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.

The good news is, we know how to do it. Two years ago, as the auto industry came roaring back, Andra Rush opened up a manufacturing firm in Detroit. She knew that Ford needed parts for the best-selling truck in America, and she knew how to make those parts. She just needed the workforce. So she dialed up what we call an American Job Center; places where folks can walk in to get the help or training they need to find a new job, or a better job. She was flooded with new workers, and today, Detroit Manufacturing Systems has more than 700 employees. And what Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer and every job seeker.

So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across- the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. (Cheers, applause.) That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy. But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people. (Cheers, applause.)

Let me tell you why.

Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager, put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits, but she’s been paying taxes.

In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved. Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter, the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I’m not dependent on the government. Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society, care about our neighbors. I am confident that in time I will find a job, I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”

Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance. (Cheers, applause.) Give them that chance. Give them the chance. They need our help right now, but more important, this country needs them in the game. That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at new jobs, a new chance to support their families. And in fact, this week many will come to the White House to make that commitment real.

Tonight I ask every business leader in America to join us and do the same because we are stronger when America fields a full team. (Applause.)

Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education. (Applause.)

Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age 9. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall. (Applause.)

Five years ago we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy — problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math.

Now, some of this change is hard.

It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it is worth it — and it is working.

The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time, and that has to change.

Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. (Applause.) Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. And as a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.

But in the meantime, 30 states have raised pre-k funding on their own. They know we can’t wait. So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need. (Applause.) It is right for America. We need to get this done.

Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit. (Cheers, applause.)

We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle- class kid is priced out of a college education. We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt. (Applause.)

And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.

The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete, and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise, unless we also do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.

You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.

Women deserve equal pay for equal work. (Cheers, applause.)

You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. (Cheers, applause.) A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. (Applause.) And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That’s what America’s all about. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. (Applause.)

In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs.

Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here today with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. (Laughter.) Only now he makes more of it. (Laughter.) John just gave his employees a raise to 10 bucks an hour, and that’s a decision that has eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.

Tonight I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead. Do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. (Applause.) It’s good for the economy; it’s good for America. (Sustained applause.)

To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on. And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook — (cheers, applause) — our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty. (Sustained applause.)

Of course, to reach millions more, Congress does need to get on board.

Today the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. And Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. It’s easy to remember: 10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It does not involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise. (Cheers, applause.) Give ’em a raise.

There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. Think about that. It helps about half of all parents in America at some point in their lives.

But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, help more Americans get ahead.

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401(k)s. That’s why tomorrow I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a — it’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg.

MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little or nothing for middle-class Americans, offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everybody in this chamber can.

And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of home ownership alive for future generations. (Applause.)

One last point on financial security. For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that. (Scattered laughter, applause.)

Now — a pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician’s assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn’t get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. (Applause.) On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would’ve meant bankruptcy. That’s what health insurance reform is all about, the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans. (Applause.)

More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage — 9 million. (Applause.)

And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American, none, zero, can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or back pain or cancer. (Cheers, applause.) No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. (Cheers, applause.) And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.

Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. (Laughter.) (Chuckles.) (Laughter.) But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. (Applause.) But let’s not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda.

(Cheers, applause.) The first 40 were plenty. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.

And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Now, Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. (Laughter.) But he’s like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families. They’re our neighbors and our friends, he said. They’re people we shop and go to church with — farmers out on the tractor, grocery clerks. They’re people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.

Steve’s right. That’s why tonight I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Help them get covered. (Applause.) Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It’ll give her some peace of mind, and plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you. (Laughter.)

After all, that — that’s the spirit that has always moved this nation forward.

It’s the spirit of citizenship, the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well.

Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote. (Applause.) Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened, but conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it. And the bipartisan commission I appointed, chaired by my campaign lawyer and Governor Romney’s campaign lawyer, came together and have offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote. Let’s support these efforts. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy. (Cheers, applause.)

Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters and our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. (Applause.)

Citizenship demands a sense of common purpose; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.

And I know this chamber agrees that few Americans give more to their country than our diplomats and the men and women of the United States armed forces. (Extended applause.) Thank you.

Tonight, because of the extraordinary troops and civilians who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free, the United States is more secure. When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over. (Applause.)

After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future.

If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al-Qaida. For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country. (Applause.)

The fact is that danger remains. While we’ve put al-Qaida’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al-Qaida affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses and combat new threats like cyberattacks. And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions. (Applause.)

We have to remain vigilant.

But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our outstanding military alone. As commander in chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it is truly necessary, nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles — (applause) — that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us — large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.

So even as we actively and aggressively pursue terrorist networks, through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners, America must move off a permanent war footing. (Applause.) That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones, for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.

That’s why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that privacy of ordinary people is not being violated. (Applause.) And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay — (applause) — because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.

You see, in a world of complex threats, our security, our leadership depends on all elements of our power — including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than 50 countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.

American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated. (Applause.) And we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve — a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in the difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the state of Israel — a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side. (Applause.)

And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program — and rolled back parts of that program — for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

It’s not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify every day that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

These negotiations will be difficult; they may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and we’re clear about the mistrust between our nations, mistrust that cannot be wished away. But these negotiations don’t rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. (Applause.)

The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. (Applause.) For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

(Applause.) If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance — and we’ll know soon enough — then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

And finally, let’s remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe, to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want. And no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than America.

Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully and to have a say in their country’s future. Across Africa, we’re bringing together businesses and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty. In the Americas, we’re building new ties of commerce, but we’re also expanding cultural and educational exchanges among young people.

And we will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster, as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, “We will never forget your kindness” and “God bless America.”

We do these things because they help promote our long-term security. And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation. And next week the world will see one expression of that commitment when Team USA marches the red, white and blue into the Olympic stadium and brings home the gold. (Cheers, applause.)

My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might but because of the ideals we stand for and the burdens we bear to advance them.

No one knows this better than those who serve in uniform. As this time of war draws to a close, a new generation of heroes returns to civilian life. We’ll keep slashing that backlog so our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned and our wounded warriors receive the health care — including the mental health care — that they need. (Applause.) We’ll keep working to help all our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs here at home, and we will all continue to join forces to honor and support our remarkable military families.

Let me tell you about one of those families I’ve come to know.

I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program, the ceremony. He was a strong, impressive young man, had an easy manner. He was sharp as a tack. And we joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.

A few months later, on his 10th deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.

For months, he lay in a coma. And the next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab every day.

Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again, and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit. (Cheers, applause.) Cory. (Extended cheers and applause.)

My fellow Americans — my fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged.

But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.

The America we want for our kids — a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us — none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, the way Cory summoned what is best in him, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it’s within our reach.

Believe it.

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

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2013 State of the Union Address Enhanced Youtube Video

2013 State of the Union Address Enhanced Youtube VideoPresident Obama delivers the 2013 State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation in this enhanced YouTube video. Here President Barack Obama lets the American people know the state of America.

President Barack Obama then proceeds to go through his goals and aspirations for his second term in this enhanced YouTube video.

In this enhanced YouTube video on the 2013 State of the Union Address has many overlays and other information added throughout President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

So if you have not yet the State of the Union yet or are watching again to get a deeper understanding of the goals ahead this is the version to watch.

2013 State of the Union Address Enhanced Youtube Video

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Plan Your Election Day

Vote Democratic in the 2012 General ElectionElection Day 2012 is tomorrow, are you ready to vote? Make sure you know who and what you are voting for. It is very important that everyone that is registered to vote get out and get their vote in tomorrow. We live in a great country and it can only become greater if we all do our civic duty and vote in our countries elections. Elections are the very core of America and the democracy we all hold so dear. It is the responsibility of every American to vote in every election. Only then can we truly be the masters of our own fate.

Make a plan. Schedule a time to hit the polls and grab your friends and family that still need to vote. It is a lot of fun and there is a certain sense of pride and accomplishment that can be felt when we do vote.

Most people in America have already decided who and how they are going to vote. However if you are still undecided here are some of the big issues that are on everyone’s mind this election year.

  • If you are a college student, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you are a firefighter, police officer, teacher, or any other government worker, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think that the health care industry should profit off us being healthy instead of being sick, , vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you are a woman, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you are on unemployment, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you are one of the 47%, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you are one of the 99%, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you depend on Medicaid, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you depend on Medicare, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you depend on Social Security, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you don’t have a job now, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you depend on PERA, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you depend on a retirement fund, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you don’t want to see another  financial crash, , vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you know that a person’s health is vital to our pursuit of happiness, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you know that cooperation and bipartisanship is the only way to move forward, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you know that every human, without exception, has inalienable rights to freedom and happiness, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you know we solve problems through kindness and cooperation, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you know woman deserve equal pay for equal work, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you lost your job in the great Republican Market Crash, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you live on the coast, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you do not enjoy disastrous weather, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you realize a balanced approach to fiscal responsibility is the only feasible way to dig this country out of the financial hole we are in, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you remember the downward spiral of our country prior to  2008 and want to keep us on the path the repairing that damage, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you report less than 1,000,000 dollars on your business taxes, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you report less than 250,000 dollars on your income taxes, , vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you show up at the polls this year and you can’t vote, , vote for Democratic candidates next election.
  • If you think it is wrong to buy elections, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think it was about time that someone brought Osama Bin Laden to justice, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think our environment is worth protecting, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think that every America equally share the burden of balancing our national budget, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think that everyone deserves to be healthy whether they are rich or poor, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think that people of all origins deserve a chance in America, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you think that women’s health care is important, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want a better education for your children, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want a chance to afford education, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want a government that focuses on real problems, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want a President that can get things done even when an entire political party’s singular goal is to undermine him, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want a President that nurtures and grows foreign relations, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want a President that sticks to what he says, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want American businesses to pay taxes in a country that makes them successful, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want bridge the income gap, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want cheaper drug prices, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want healthcare to be better and cheaper, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want jobs to be created in America and the jobs that are here to stay in this country, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want our schools to continue to improve, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want to expand our energy independence and versatility, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want to have a real shot at the American Dream, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want to make a positive difference in America’s future, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want to move America back to being a world leader, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want to see the reckless behavior of Wall Street stop, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.
  • If you want us to push forward into the 21st century instead of falling back into the 20th century, vote Barack Obama for President and vote for your Democratic candidates.

But if you want to take a step back in time, forgot about the costly illegitimate wars, the economic crash, don’t care women’s health, corruption, and cronyism that brought our country down so fast, vote for the other guys.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to get out and vote. So make a plan, talk to your friends and get out there and participate in one of the most important things that you can do as an American.

Happy voting!

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Top Ten Ways to Vote Responsibly in Politics

people-politicpolitics-voter-infoWe are just under a month away and it is time to make sure that everyone, and I do mean everyone, in the United States of America is prepared, registered, and eager to vote in the upcoming presidential general election.

I would love to see Americans set a new standard this year for voter turnout. I would love to see the American people finally step up and show the world through their political actions that we are the premiere democracy we all hope and wish to be.

To this end I have whipped up this quick Top Ten Ways to Vote Responsibly in Politics checklist to make sure every eligible voter in America is registered and ready to make a responsible political vote come November 6th.

Top Ten Ways to Vote Responsibly in Politics

Number 1: Make sure you are Registered

With the voter fraud and ID laws that have been enacted in many states, many eligible voters have been purged from the system. Many of my friends and family who have been active in every election for years were removed, so don’t believe for a second you are immune to these voter purges. Make sure you are registered! Just Google “Register to vote [your state]” and pick the website that is a .gov.

Number 2: Make sure you have the Required ID(s) to Vote

Some of the voter fraud laws have restrictions that only those with certain types of ID or proof of identity can vote, even if you are registered. So be sure to have the correct ID ready and available. You should be able to find out this information when you verify your voter registration at your state’s website.

Number 3: Decide how you will Vote

In most states you have the ability to either vote in person at a polling place or to vote by mail. The preference is yours but I would suggest figuring out exactly what you are going to do so you are prepared come election day. If your state has been part of the new voter fraud laws you may want to vote by mail this year as the polling places are going to be stuffed and chaotic with many voters that will not be able to vote due to these new restrictions and laws. It might get really ugly. So to avoid these you may want to vote by mail this year. Or at the very least have a mail in ballot ready should your polling place be packed on Election Day.

Number 4: Know where you will Vote

It is important to find out ahead of time where your polling place is. Depending on the state you might have a very specific location where you have to vote or you might have the freedom to vote at any polling place in your district.

Even if you plan to vote by mail it is important for you to learn where these ballots have to be turned in should you need to turn it in at the last moment.

Number 5: Learn when you can Vote

This is also important as it can save you a headache come November 6th. Many states now offer early voting. This has really helped to alleviate Election Day woes of long lines and confusion at the polling places. Most early voting starts around a week ahead of Election Day, but your area may be different. Make sure you know so you can take advantage of it.

Employers are federally required to give their employees time to go vote. So don’t let your work schedule stop you from getting out there to vote!

Number 6: Learn about the Presidential Candidates

Make a point to go out and learn about all of the political candidates for president. Read through the top issues they are campaigning on figure out who best suits your ideals, values, and beliefs. Then please make a point to do some research on them. Don’t limit this research to just the websites, media outlets or talk shows that support your candidate. Also search for those that represent the other side as well as those that are try to be unbiased and neutral. You will never ever hear the truth from a single source so do yourself a favor, become broadly informed.

Number 7: Learn about which Representatives are up for Election

These are the politicians that are going to represent your political will at the national level. These are very important as they will have your state issues in mind. They will also follow their party line to some degree. This can be very tricky as often times these two things conflict politically. When it comes to your representatives look to how and what they voted for. On occasion you will have a representative that doesn’t yet have a voting record so you have to take their word on faith. This can be difficult.

Number 8: Learn about your Local Representatives

Local political representatives are often harder to learn about due to many are often running for office for the first time. Generally this is where many politicians start. If they like being a politician and are liked by the people they often move up to the state level.

However, these politicians are the ones you can easily go out and talk to. They will have town hall type meetings in the area. Will often respond directly to email or phone questions. This can make it more personal but also allows you to find out where they stand on issues directly.

You might have to do a little digging depending on where you live to get good information on them but most local newspapers do a great job of going through the candidates that in your area. So pick up your local papers special politics additions to get the bead on which local politicians you want to support.

Number 9: Learn about the Local and State Issues up for Vote

You should be able to learn about the local issues that are coming up for a vote through your local newspaper and their website. You should also receive a voter booklet to help you learn about the issues.

Often times these are the same issues you will hear about quite a bit leading up to the election. These are going to be votes to change the local budget, approve taxes for schools, constitutional amendments, and a myriad of other political issues. You may only have a couple to look into or several dozen depending on your location.

Even though it may seem arduous, these local issues are going to be the ones that directly affect you so it is very important that you learn about these issues. Try to watch the news on these up until the time you vote as there can be some last minute changes and information that comes up on these local political issues.

Number 10: Create a Voting Cheat Sheet for Yourself

Whether you are voting at the polling places or you are voting with a mail in ballot make sure                   that you create a cheat sheet for yourself so you are sure you are voting how you want to. It is easy to get pressured, nervous, or forgetful when it is time to pull the lever and pick your circles. It’s important to make sure that you know exactly how you want to vote when the times comes.

Most states have sample ballots that you can print off. This is the best route to take as it should be an exact copy of the ballot you will fill out. Mark your answers on it and any notes that you want to add. Then when the time comes, double check the official ballot you are filling out is the same and you can quickly mark down your answers.

This assures that you vote how you want to vote and you speed up the process for everyone when the time comes.

The Final Touch to being a Responsible Voter in Politics

All of these tips and tricks should help you make an informed decision about what is best for you, your family and your area.

The very best thing you can do, after becoming an educated and responsible voter, is to speak to those around you about how to follow these steps and become a better citizen of these United States of America. At times it is hard to see how our one vote in millions makes a difference. It does, and it can make a dramatic one at times. However, these effects are often hard to see immediately and can lessen our civic excitement and duty.

However, by being a responsible, educated voter in America you are one of millions that is working to shape our future as a people and as a nation. Only through the power of the people will we be able to assert our will past the demagogues, the mountains of money, and those bent on keeping the people disenfranchised, and instead bring this country to a better place. By voting, you keep the reins in the hands of the people. By asserting yourself and helping others to become better voters you help the people to keep the power. And only by showing that we the people of the United States of America are engaged, educated and insistent can we hope to make a brighter future for our children and the generations to come.

See you are the polls on elections day!

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2012 Presidential Debate Schedule

people-politico-president-barack-obama-debatingThe Presidential Debates have been scheduled and their formats and topics have been chosen for the 2012 Presidential Election season.

I always look forward to these Presidential Debates because we get to see what the candidates are going to say and they are put on the spot, and face to face, with all of the political rhetoric that they have been firing at each other for months. Not only do they have to answer the questions that are presented by the debate moderator they often slip these other counter points into their responses. More often than not it seems to draw the presidential candidates into a more real and genuine response instead of those that are tailored by their publicist.

The Republicans have Mitt Romney as their candidate this year and I really do not feel that he is going to be up to the challenge of truly and honestly competing with President Obama at the podium. These Presidential Debates should be very interesting and unless Mitt Romney begins to truly solidify his platform beyond the catch phrases he is going to be in a world of trouble come these Presidential Debates.

I have discussed these Presidential Debates with many others and they seem to feel that though President Obama will likely dominate the Presidential Debates they are not going to be nearly as interesting as they might have been with Rick Perry or Herman Cain. Both of which have incredibly interesting personalities which may have been far more entertaining. What are your thoughts on these debates?

Regardless of who you are supporting in the upcoming elections it is important to watch these as they should help you forge your opinions come the general election. Mitt Romney is going to have to get studying and practicing for these debates because he is going up against a skilled and seasoned challenger who many agree is a master of debating.

2012 Presidential Debate Information

The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the formats for the 2012 presidential and vice presidential debates, each of which will be 90-minutes long. Moderators will be selected in August.

  • First presidential debate: October 3, University of Denver, Colorado: Domestic issues, questions selected by moderator.
  • Vice presidential debate: October 11, Centre College, Danville, Kentucky: Domestic and foreign issues, questions selected by moderator.
  • Second presidential debate: October 16, Hofstra University, Hampstead, N.Y.: Town-hall meeting format with questions from undecided voters.
  • Third presidential debate: October 22, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida: Foreign issues, questions selected by moderator.

Make sure to tune and and watch these important debates Presidential Debates. We often get some real insight into what and who these presidential candidates are and what their platforms and plans are for the United States of America for the next four years. Even more importantly, we often see who is not going to be up to the challenge of being the President of the United States.

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In Debt or Indentured Part Nine: All the Issues

People Politico In Debt or Indentured: All the IssuesThis is the ninth part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured: All the Issues

With all of these issues hitting the American middle class, it can be easily seen how people can become distracted from looking at the big picture since the picture becomes so blurred through media and politics. There is also the amount of work Americans do, they are left with little time to invest in looking into the politicians that they elect. President George W. Bush said to a divorced mother of three in Omaha on February 4, 2005 “You work three jobs?  … Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that”. This should not be uniquely American to expect people to work three jobs and still barely get by. Not to mention, how much money does this struggling woman have to pay out of her three jobs to have her children looked after so she can work more? This is also an example of how politicians on both sides of the aisle think that Americans hard work is endless, yet the middle class does not demand change.

Is it audacious to think that the America middle class would demand remotely close the subsidies and tax breaks that industries and the wealthy receive currently from the government or be bailout by the government in the middle class’ time of need? The American middle class worker barely has time to demand more than a thirty second sound-bite from the politician that they will vote for…if they vote at all. A tactical attempt has been made by those in the echelons power within the United States to divide the middle class and ensure that they are more focused on surviving day to day, paying their debt, and living in fear than being able to see through the smoke filled barrage of sound clips and view the entire picture. Not able to see or feel powerless to change a government that is not serving them. The American middle class must find the time to challenge the status quo and demand tangible changes that would directly better middle class families’ everyday lives. To this point, instead of looking at the turmoil that middle class is experiencing, the American middle class is told they should not look for handouts from the government and they should take pride in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps (even though the entire financial system was bailed out to the tune of over a trillion dollars). The middle class instead is encouraged to spend more, even if that means going further into debt. An example of this was reported by Time Magazine’s Justin Fox (Editorial director of Harvard Business Review Group and author) in 2009 about statements made by then President George W. Bush directly following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks where President Bush stated, “Take your families and enjoy life, the way you want to be enjoyed.” Fox goes on to quote Boston University Historian Andrew Bacevich in his conclusion that “Bush seems to have calculated – cynically but correctly – that prolonging the credit fueled consumer binge could help keep complaints about his performance as Commander in Chief from becoming more than a nuisance.” Politicians, Democrat and Republican, will put their own aspirations ahead of those of the country unless a conscious society, predominately made up of the middle class as the majority within America, is willing to hold them accountable for their actions and words.

Common ground must be found by all American middle class indentured servants in order to free themselves from the this unjust system that has been built to keep the middle class in perpetual debt and fear. The American middle class must put partisanship aside in a time when it has been developed to a fever pitch. Democrats and Republicans cannot look in hate towards their fellow middle class worker trying to survive just as they are. It is time to rise up and demand a change within this country, a time to retire the debt that has burdened on their backs and buried a generation. If common ground cannot be found in the form of the self preservation of the middle class and the redefining of what the American Dream consists of, there may be no hope for this experiment with a middle class in America. But if common can be found and the political muscle of the American middle class can be flexed politically to demand changes that will help them directly in the form of debt relief, tax relief, living wages, educational equality and affordability, common belief that health is a right and not a privilege, and that fear can no longer be a tool used to control the middle class. If this type of unity can be found and the political will demonstrated by the middle class, there can be a redistribution of power in this country and the United States of America will return to a nation governed for the people by the people.

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In Debt or Indentured Part Eight: Single Issue Voting

People Politico In Debt or Indentured Single Issue VotingThis is the eighth part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured: Single Issue Voting

Another reason that the middle class has not unified to demand change from the government and subsequently their employers is that the American middle class has allowed their voices to be divided on the basis of single issues. These types of social issues have dominated American politics starting in the 1980’s with efforts to mitigate the effects of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America. The two major American political parties took strong positions supporting and denouncing legalized abortion in America. Through time there have been litanies of new social issues that have been added to the table to assist in dividing the middle class vote and creating a new type of voter. This new voter will vote on a single issue instead of demanding platforms that address their own personal issues that are affecting their everyday life instead of one single issue that the my only care about because of religious or personal convictions. Some of the issues that currently stifle America middle class voices are: abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, euthanasia, gun control, and illegal immigration. The interesting thing about single issues or wedge issues is that when either party is in control of congress and The White House, little to nothing is done to change the issue. On the face it appears that there is a lack of political will to tackle such monumental social issues, but politicians on both sides ran with those issues central to their platforms.

There are many example of the bait-and-switch of wedge issues by both Democrats and Republicans. One for the Republican’s took place while controlling all of congress and The White House from 2003 through 2007. Almost every elected Republican took a stance in their run for office to work towards the limitation of abortion. Yet during this time period of Republican control, little to nothing was changed to limit abortion in America. This was done even though this wedge issue was used by most Republicans to motivate voters that saw this as a single issue to vote for. The Democrats did the same thing with stem cell research and gay marriage when controlling congress and the presidency from 2009 to 2011. This is sometimes referred to in political communities as pandering to the base or telling the base of the party what they want to hear. Once elected these politicians do not make it a priority to do anything about the issue until close to another election. This maneuver ensures a constant block of voters (mostly middle class) that will come out to vote for their party because the voter cares about this sole issue. This was seen with gay marriage and abortion in the U.S. Presidential Election of 2004 between then President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry and again in the 2008 election between Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. Even now in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential Elections, the sound of pandering to single issue voters are being displayed by both Former-Governor Romney and President Obama.

Middle Class Divided

The division of the American middle class is important to both major political parties which have unlimited funds now available to them through the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that classes corporations as individuals protected by freedom of speech through the form of political contributions to individual candidates as protected speech, this reported by Adam Liptak for the New York Times in his article titled, “Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit.” This decision now entitles corporations to spend as much as they like on political contributions to individual candidates (Liptak).  The dissenting Supreme Court justices warn, “allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy” (Liptak). This ruling allows corporations to act as individuals in order further influence elections through money. All though as a corporation it will not be able to vote in that very same election since it is not a person or a citizen.

That’s it for this part of In Debt or Indentured. We hope that this has given you some important things to think about. Use some of what you have learned here to look beyond the mere message our politicians are presenting to what the ramifications of these actions has on all of us Americans. Our country started down a slippery slope over a decade ago. We seemed to have stopped the free fall it had become, but do not fool yourself. We are still on the precipice of another long fall. Let’s just hope we all can learn, and grow, from the last spill we took.

Check back soon for the next installment of In Debt or Indentured.

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In Debt or Indentured Part Seven: The Power of the Middle Class

People Politico In Debt or Indentured: The Power of the Middle ClassThis is the seventh part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured: The Power of the Middle Class

The indentured middle class could look to the strong and cohesive group of Americans that have been able to establish Social Security as the third rail of American politics. Both Republicans and Democrats refuse to substantially change this very popular program for seniors since they have come together and will punish a politician of either party if they work against this program. This power comes through seniors vote in large numbers and they ensure that their representation understands that Social Security and Medicaid are widely popular programs for them and it should not be tampered with. But after elections, these same seniors stay involved by reaching out and reminding their representatives how important this is to them. In 2008’s presidential election, the forty-five to sixty-five year old voting block voted at a rate of sixty-nine percent. Voters aged eighteen to twenty-four year olds were now at only forty-nine percent as reported by Thom File and Sarah Crissey in a U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration and U.S. Census Bureau report titled “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008.” It can stand to reason that politicians are not as concerned with the cost of higher education and the cost being incurred by young Americans that do not vote in the same numbers as seniors and will not hound them after the elections to help them. Since young people and many middle class voters do not invest the time to demand a change in their government, their government does not take time to look out for their interest either.

That’s it for this part of In Debt or Indentured. We hope that this has given you some important things to think about. Use some of what you have learned here to look beyond the mere message our politicians are presenting to what the ramifications of these actions has on all of us Americans. Our country started down a slippery slope over a decade ago. We seemed to have stopped the free fall it had become, but do not fool yourself. We are still on the precipice of another long fall. Let’s just hope we all can learn, and grow, from the last spill we took.

Check back soon for the next installment of In Debt or Indentured.

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In Debt or Indentured Part Four: Work Force

People Politico In Debt or Indentured: Work ForceThis is the forth part of a multiple part series taking a deep dive into our current political and economic crisis in America. Partisan politics, unfettered corporate spending and recklessness along with a shift in our social acceptance of debt, is having far reaching and potentially devastating affects on our way of life, on the American Dream. With each installment we will take a closer look at some of the major pieces of this very complex puzzle and try to understand them and bring them into perspective. Use this opportunity to take a broader look on the political and social economic state of America and how each of us, as a small pieces of the puzzle, can make a difference.

In Debt or Indentured: Work Force

The American middle class is facing this mountain of debt now with stagnant wages that have seen little to no increase in salary compared to the drastic increase in productivity. Frank Levy (professor of Urban Economics in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Studies and Planning) and Tom Kochan (Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of both the MIT Workplace Center) in partnership with the Employment Policy Research Network (group of 150 academic researchers from more than 50 universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom) published a comprehensive look at the American middle class and how the effects of stagnation are impacting the middle class worker. Levy and Kochan clearly make the connection between the middle class’s labor, wages, and belief in the American Dream when they summarize the current state of business as “The broken connection between labor and productivity growth and compensation growth for average workers has undermined mass upward mobility and the ideal of a growing middle class.”In short, American workers are being asked to do more work for the same pay and expect to continue to grow financially within society. All three of the ideals cannot exist at the same time. Levy and Kochan describe the evolution of large American corporations as “increasing their economic power and political influence” through and after the 1970s. Levy and Kochan state that these changes in business practice and ideology have lead to:

[S]ubstantial legislative changes that deregulated major industries, liberalized banking rules, undercut labor-law enforcement and reform, prevented increases in the federal minimum wage, and fostered an ideology of free-market liberalism and the ‘maximization of shareholder value’ at the expense of other stakeholders. (p.4)

This has lead to a laissez-faire business environment that encourages corporate profits over anything else, including taking care of their employees, not just their executives. If the company can get more productivity out of less people…it will. If the organizations can require longer hours with no additional pay (salaried employees or moving to have a part time workforce)…it will. If a corporation can frighten and intimidate their employees out of collective bargaining…it definitely will. The strange thing about this radical movement by corporations is that it has been supported through legislation from the government and American middle class is still supportive in large numbers towards decreasing regulation for corporations favoring a belief in pure capitalism.

That’s it for this part of In Debt or Indentured. We hope that this has given you some important things to think about. Use some of what you have learned here to look beyond the mere message our politicians are presenting to what the ramifications of these actions has on all of us Americans. Our country started down a slippery slope over a decade ago. We seemed to have stopped the free fall it had become, but do not fool yourself. We are still on the precipice of another long fall. Let’s just hope we all can learn, and grow, from the last spill we took.

Check back soon for the next installment of In Debt or Indentured.

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