Political Union, College Democrats host State of the Union viewing party

Fathma Rahman, Reporter

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Around 35 students gathered on the main floor of Buffett Institute for Global Studies on Tuesday to watch President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address at the Political Union and College Democrats’ joint viewing party.

Following Obama’s one-hour national address, attendees reflected on their views of the president’s agenda as well as his speech mannerisms.

“President Obama’s speaking style has a lot of things that he’s very well-renowned for,” said Weinberg sophomore Samuel Wang, an event attendee. “He’s a fantastic speaker, great rhythm, very good at touching emotions — but more than just that, I think the contents of this speech were excellent.”

The two groups joined forces to host this viewing party in an effort to bring students together for the important speech, said Karna Nangia, Political Union co-president and Weinberg senior.

“I think that viewing it with people from across the political spectrum and seeing their reactions, being able to talk to them through it and after, is a good reason to have a viewing party,” the Weinberg senior said.

Students in attendance actively responded and expressed their opinions throughout the event, from rounds of laughter following Obama’s particular comments about “try(ing) to make it shorter” because there were some who are “antsy to get back to Iowa,” to snaps for his comments on the necessity for bipartisan reform on topics like criminal justice and substance abuse.

Weinberg sophomore Cecily Mejia said she approved of how Obama addressed major issues and brought up unresolved problems, including military conflicts with the Islamic State.

“It was interesting because he usually doesn’t take that militant stance,” Mejia said. “I also really liked how he directly called out racism and related (issues).”

In what may have been a response to anti-Muslim remarks by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Obama urged Americans to not take out fear and frustration on “fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do.”

To Wang, another important aspect of Obama’s address was the subject of political polarization, which Obama alluded to on multiple occasions when talking about bipartisanship and focused on more directly near the end of his address.

“Obama talks about how party extremism has continuously grown, and that’s one issue he touched upon very well because he’s been through it himself,” Wang said. “Slowly, as politics has progressed, we’ve seen the strong trait of polarization and that was a big emphasis of his speech.”

In addition, Obama emphasized his intention to push his agenda in the final year of his presidency. With presidential campaigns already in full swing, much of the nation’s attention has been directed at the 2016 candidate pool, but Obama stayed focused on the end of his own presidency.

“The State of the Union is supposed to set the tone for the coming year and in this, being his last, he has really shown that in the last year and the next, he really wants to push forward his agenda,” Mejia said.

Video by Jacquelyn Guillen. Editing by Bailey Williams.

Email: fathmarahman2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @fathma_rahman