Once a year, the President stands before our country and expresses his policy objectives and desires for the United States in the upcoming year. On Tuesday night, OpenGrounds screened this State of the Union address, allowing members of the University community to come together to watch this instrumental speech. As students, we are often unable to access mediums through which to view important national events such as this. This broadcast at OpenGrounds allowed students the opportunity to view the State of the Union in a welcoming environment, one that inspires discussion on a multitude of issues.
The Democracy Network, an organization that works closely with OpenGrounds, took advantage of this screening opportunity to discuss the meaning of the speech. Third-year Sky Miller, leading the direction of discussion, posited the question, “Does the State of the Union have use?” One member of the organization quickly spoke up, stating that in this day and age of constant social media updates, the president should speak before the nation on a more consistent basis. Furthering this point, the member suggested an open forum online, in which the president could respond virtually to questions and concerns voiced by the general public.
The debate quickly began to take shape, as another student shot back, arguing that it was nearly impossible for the president to stay completely connected to the public at all times. In her opinion, the State of the Union was the perfect, and necessary, opportunity for the president to come before the nation in a time of calm. In this way, the president is able to be accountable to the American public in a realistic manner. Further discussion points elaborated on the inherent politicalness (or lack thereof) of the State of the Union address, as well as the importance of policy points within the speech.
Opportunities like these that allow for sustained discussion surrounding the broadcast of an important national event serve to highlight the importance of OpenGrounds for the U.Va. community. In the future, OpenGrounds hopes to continue hosting events that allow for national issues to be discussed on more personal levels.