There was a time in America when acting like a king would rightfully ruin your public image. These days, however, have died as the president has accumulated more and more power. Nothing demonstrates a more public display of this monarchical presidency than the annual State of the Union Address. Modeled almost exactly after the speech from the throne, the American State of the Union Address is a time in which the president of the United States delivers a speech before Congress in which the president will boast of his “accomplishments,” bemoan his opposition and pressure the Congress to comply with his agenda.
It wasn’t always like this. Thomas Jefferson never delivered a State of the Union Address. In fact, he too believed that the State of the Union was a monarchical display of power. Instead of a speech, Jefferson fulfilled his constitutional duty by presenting the State of the Union in the form of letters, adding a sense of much-needed humility to the presidency after John Adams attempted to use the office to grow his own power. This custom of delivering the State of the Union in the form of letters continued until Woodrow Wilson revived the State of the Union Address.
The State of the Union Address is a Power Move
It is no coincidence that Woodrow Wilson, perhaps the most anti-liberty administrations, presented the State of the Union in the form of a speech. He was a power-hungry politician. Now that mass media has become so prevalent in society, the speech is no longer just a power move on Congress, it is a power move on the public.
If one is honest, it is impossible to dispute the fact that these addresses are a remarkable display of propaganda. Its goal, of course, is to demand obedience to the federal government. A talented speaker can convince the masses to believe evil absurdities. By masking the truth with power, the president’s State of the Union Address fuels the growth of the state and further weakens the foundation of liberty.
It is Time to End the State of the Union Address
Regardless of one’s opinions on the current administration or any past administration, one must realize that no one person should have the power to drive the agenda of the United States. One angle of attack against the cult of omnipotent government and the monarchical presidency would be to end these annual speeches. Jefferson was right. The speech itself is far too monarchical for a republic.
The end of the annual speech would and transitioning it to a letter would instill some humility into the presidency. It would also help erode the public’s worship of the federal government and the presidency. In addition, written statements are much more direct. This is not to say, of course, that this would eliminate all forms of state propaganda, but eliminating the State of the Union Address would be a good start.
Image Credit: NASA HQ Photos