28 October 2016
Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: AP
Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: AP

Obama outlines need to ‘fix’ broken US politics

President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious vision for America’s future but admitted to failure to heal the political divisions in the country that are holding back progress.

Delivering his final State of the Union address, Obama pointed to a resurgent economy and stressed that the US is the “most powerful nation on earth” and no other country comes even close.

But he accepted that he fell short of bringing a transformative change to Washington, the New York Times reported.

“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama told Congress.

“A president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide,” he said.

Obama acknowledged that many Americans feel frightened and shut out of a political and economic system they view as rigged against their interests.

“As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background,” he said in the speech. “We can’t afford to go down that path.”

The president repeatedly sought to contrast Republicans’ bleak appraisals of the state of the nation with his own upbeat assessment, the Times noted.

Obama implicitly singled out Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, for pointed criticism, saying that Americans must resist calls to stigmatize all Muslims at a time of threats from the Islamic State.

“Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people?. Obama said. “Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?”

In other comments, the president said that America must harness innovation and not be intimidated by it.

Overall, Obama sought to pose and answer the four central questions that are driving the debate about America’s future: how to ensure opportunity for everyone, how to harness technological change, how to keep the country safe, and how to fix the nation’s broken politics, the Times noted.

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