By Adrienne Kirshbaum

Beginning the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama still seems to have a lot of energy for his job, and many local Democrats were eager to hear what he would have to say in his State of the Union address. Tenth Dems arranged a Watch Party at Max & Benny’s on the evening of January 20 and welcomed all who wanted to come hear the President lay out his plans for 2015. Breaking bread together on an icy winter evening and then watching a speech like this with like-minded people provides a comfort level that is difficult to match.

Sometimes the fanfare that precedes these events is more exciting than the actual address, but this time Obama proved that he hasn’t lost his fighting spirit. Despite being blocked at almost every turn in his presidency, he has a clear view of what he wants for the nation and what he hopes to accomplish in the “final quarter” of his two terms in office. This State of the Union address was inspirational, and the Tenth Dems crowd at Max & Benny’s cheered and applauded often.

That the State of the Union is a choreographed event doesn’t make it any less impressive. The House Sergeant at Arms announces the President, who makes his way to the front, shaking hands and greeting colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The Vice President, who is President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House are seated behind the podium. It’s always fun to watch their reactions to the speech. Depending on their party affiliation, they may smile and clap enthusiastically or grimace and seem to fall asleep.

This year’s speech was President Obama at his best. He seemed relaxed and sure of himself as he announced that the shadow of crisis has passed and that the state of the union is “strong.” He began by telling the story of a young family that worked hard and endured through tough times, explaining that he had sought the presidency to work for people like these. He then said that we have experienced the fastest economic growth in over a decade but that American families still need government’s help to feel more secure in a world of constant change. In particular, the President called for child care for working parents, paid sick leave and maternity leave, free community college, jobs for our veterans, the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and climate change legislation. He pleaded with House and Senate members to come together and get things done and promised Republicans that he would listen to their ideas.

President Obama closed by evoking his 2004 speech about how “there are no red states and there are no blue states,” the speech that first brought him national attention. He said that he still believes that the cynics are wrong and that we are all one people.

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