A Progressive’s Guide To #SOTU2014: What We Want To Hear


Author’s Note: This article will simply lay out what the Progressive base of the Democratic Party wants to hear the President say tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll be live Tweeting the speech from our Twitter account which you can follow here: @Fl_Political_Sq and we will also release a response to what we heard not only from the President but also the four (yes, four) Republican responses to  it. 

What I’m about to tell you is quite possibly the most blasphemous thing you’ll ever hear someone say over the next nine days but it’s the God’s Honest Truth. No matter who the sitting President is, not matter which party, I’m always more excited for the State of the Union address than I am the Super Bowl. Granted, that might change when/if my New York Jets make the Super Bowl but at this point in time, a Sarah Palin presidency is more likely. In all seriousness, outside of Presidential Elections, this is the Super Bowl of politics. Although I think it should be compared to the Daytona 500 simply because the State of The Union is the spark of the legislative year rather than the crowning achievement of a long season. This the night that sets the course and the tone for the rest of the year. This is the speech that puts out the President’s agenda for the next year.

Progressives are frustrated — frustrated and extremely tired. Tired from fighting a battle all on their own.  In the wake of  prolonged war in Afghanistan with seemingly no end, a boisterous outrage over the NSA’s domestic spying program via the Edward Snowden leaks, an unequivocal pessimism over a stalled economic recovery in the midst of soaring corporate profits and stock prices, a collective WTF over the lackadaisical response to growing inequality, fraud on Wall Street, and still a collective long term hangover from death of the Public Option coupled with endless Republican obstructionism, I’d say we have every reason to be both. However, we do have an opportunity to be optimistic, hopeful, and dare I say even excited for our future prospects, starting tomorrow night with the State of The Union.

I think finally President Obama has gotten frustrated and impatient with the Republican Party. This Congress has been the least effective in American history in terms of the amounts of bills passed.  Shocking when you really think about it for a moment. They’ve obstructed every piece of meaningful legislation this President has tried to get done in his presidency. Furthermore that obstruction showed just how weak the White House and the Democratic Party in general had become via the capitulation on Health Care, Wall Street Reform (which we’ll be covering more here at TFS), and jobs/stimulus packages.  President Obama spent his entire first term attempting to extend a hand to the other party but was repeatedly turned away at very outset. But this President didn’t give up. In most cases Obama gave Republicans more than they had asked for in negotiations just to get bills passed (see: budget, Debt Ceiling amongst others).

As we move into year two of his second term and close to the Midterms, the speech will undoubtedly political in nature. In other words, I expect this State Of The Union will be more a of base building exercise in addition to an agenda setter. The White House knows the base is disappointed, and will be looking for certain things in the speech tomorrow night. No question, the most important item progressives will be looking for, is the term “Executive Action” referring of course to Presidential Executive Orders. Spefecically, President Obama will have to show progressives that he’ll be willing to use that pen of his when Congress fails to get things done to improve our economy. I can’t say definitively why the President has been so timid to use this threat, or even go so far as to use the action more, but I can speculate it’s about the political ramifications and subsequent kabuki theatrics that would follow such an action.

So what economic issues specifically will Progressives be looking for executive action on? Raising the minimum wage HAS to be at the top of list. Recent polls indicate that 80% of Americans want the minimum wage raise to $10.10 an hour which would be a living wage. If the President starts a national conversation on this issue tomorrow night, he’ll be met with unfettered support from members of the public on both sides of the aisle. 80% of the people wanting something is a scary thing to vote against for vulnerable politicians so in my opinion raising the minimum wage will be a major part of the 2014 State Of The Union and of the legislative season.
Also, in the course of raising the minimum wage discussion I would imagine President Obama will talk about ideas on how we can close the income and wealth gap through tax policy and trade policy, specifically the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Earlier this winter Wikileaks published a secret draft of the TPP which was met with heavy outcry over its contents. President Obama must address how this proposed trade deal will effect American manufacturing jobs, the environment, intellectual property rights, and other issues. Progressive and labor leaders will most certainly be looking for a statement showing the President will stop at nothing to protect the American worker.

In addition to the TPP, Obama can take this opportunity, in the context of closing the income and wealth gap, to talk about he plans to reign in Wall Street. A new OXFAM report came out this month about the state of global inequality- 85 people have more wealth than 3.5 billion. There is no doubt that any mention of enforcing Dodd-Frank to its fullest, adding more regulations to the financial services sector, empowering the SEC to detect and prosecute fraud, and even a financial transaction tax are sure to meet heavy Republican (and as my preview TFS post shows, even Democratic) opposition.  But, the American people are behind him in this, and if he comes out strong for going after Wall Street and follow up with a campaign styled tour to rally the public behind him, we could be in for some serious forms.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, inequality, reigning in Wall Street and the TPP, President Obama cannot give this speech tomorrow night without addressing the fears of Domestic Spying in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. Again, this issue is a bipartisan one where people like Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) actually agree. We need to reform the way we collect and store intelligence. Despite what right wing trolls and media talking heads say, Progressives understand there are numerous threats to our security. We understand fully, that ever since being attacked on 9/11, there are factions of Anti-Americanism all over the worlds, that will stop at nothing to do us harm.  However, the concern of Progressives has always been the secrecy of these programs, the process of FISA court orders, and of course, the actual subsequent effect such programs have on our relations with other members of the international community. Progressives want reforms to these programs that include a more democratic and open oversight of them rather operations done behind closed doors in shrouds of secrecy.

As previously mentioned, I’ll be taking over The Florida Squeeze Twitter feed tomorrow night to live tweet the entire speech plus the Republican responses. Additionally we will have a response of our own to the President as well as we cover President Obama’s sixth State of the Union Address.

Thanks For Reading,


  1. Mr Florida · ·

    We already know what you want to hear…. More Nanny Government Executive Orders. How I can sit on My six o’clock and get what I deserve.


  2. Yes. And death panels. LOTS of death panels!


  3. […] this week I released my Progressive Guide to #SOTU2014 that essentially outlined what Progressives wanted to hear last night. I mentioned that we would […]


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