The POTUS, who’d recently taken executive action to move forward on gun safety measures when the legislative branch refused, touched on a few of his regular subjects: climate change, infrastructure, economy and education. But he also announced a few new critical missions and outright set the record straight on a few misconceptions about the status of America at present.
Here’s what he covered.
Employing green technologies to combat climate change.Getty Images
“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it,” POTUS boldly said to those who still don’t believe in the overwhelming evidence of climate change. “You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”
He then redoubled his commitment to supporting green energy technologies, saying, “now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future , especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
Combating anti-Islamism on political and private levels.Getty Images
“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion,” the President said in plain rejection of any political efforts to target Muslims in the U.S. “This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal. It respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”
He also turned attention to the public’s treatment of Muslim individuals and groups around the country, imploring, “when politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized or a kid bullied that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.”
Encouraging technology and innovation at all levels.Getty Images
Barack Obama also touched on the continued impact of technologies, proposing that students should be learning coding on a national level, for example. “That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world.”
Finding the cure to cancer.Getty Images
“Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” said Obama.
Bridging the political divide between branches.Getty Images
The President acknowledged that the American political system is often stuck in an exhausting state of gridlock wherein nothing can be done in a timely and organized fashion, and he blames himself for the frustration that exists and how it affects the American people.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he said. “There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of [Abraham] Lincoln or [Franklin D.] Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”
Dealing with ISIL and other international priorities.Getty Images
President Obama mentioned lifting the embargo on Cuba, ending the malaria crisis in Africa, and shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay as goals he’d like to achieve alongside Congress. He also insisted that as international tensions continue to rise in the Middle East, Russia and China, “we have to set priorities.”
“Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country. they undermine our allies,” POTUS said.
“If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment , or mine, to see that justice is done, ask Osama Bin Laden. Ask the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.”
Offering perspective to the nation about what’s really broken.Getty Images
Perhaps one of the most quotable moments of the night came when the President reminded Americans who to blame for any dismay with the current state of the economy.
“Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis. Recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough. Those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through off shore accounts,” said the President.