Students react to State of the Union address, back Biden on Ukraine aid


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WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 01: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol’s House Chamber on March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. During his first State of the Union address, Biden was expected to speak on his administration’s efforts to lead a global response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, work to curb inflation and to bring the country out of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

Anna Raley, News Editor

One year into his first term as president, Joe Biden delivered a formal address to Congress and the American public on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

The date of the address was later than anticipated, being spoken in March rather than January as, according to the White House, Biden needed more time to advance his domestic policy package. 

With the pressing war in Ukraine, Biden began his speech supporting the Ukrainian people. The support was expressed through economic sanctions pressed upon Russian oligarchs and the closure of American air space to all Russian flights. 

On the Saint Anselm campus, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics ambassadors held a watch party for the State of the Union Address. There, sophomore students Amani Clemons and James Maloney were able to converse with peers on Biden’s dialogue. Clemons stated, in description of the event, “you could tell there was an excitement in the air for anticipation of what the President would include.”  In watching the address for the first time Clemons noted that the words spoken by Biden were in the midst of an incredibly dark time. “The state of our country may not look very bright right now, but there is hope that we will regrow and gain back our economic might in the near future. It was addressed before the State of the Union Address that the speech Biden was writing two weeks before, was very different from the one he delivered solely because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.” Maloney furthered Amani’s perspective acknowledging, “The elephant in the room is Russia, and Biden addressed our feelings on the situation as a nation.  that there would be consequences to the actions against Ukrainian and that we will support them to the best of our abilities.” 

In his speech Biden focused upon his admiration for the president of Ukraine and the Ukrainian citizens. “From President Zelenskyy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination literally inspires the world… everyone from students to retirees, to teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland.” He then emphasized his admiration by declaring his militant support, vowing to make Russian President, Vladimir Putin “pay the price” for his invasion. 

In addition to the pressing need to address Putin’s actions in the Ukraine, Biden also looked towards home, addressing domestic political polarization that has overwhelmed the country. Biden discussed his social spending programs that involve an expansion of child-care, care of the elderly, climate change initiatives, and perspective-drug price reductions. He also expanded upon his demand to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in order to competitively push America over the edge within the economic playing field. Clemons held criticisms against Biden’s words. She argued, “[Biden] focused a lot on the economy, Russia, and inflation – which are understandable as they are the most pressing concerns amongst voters right now. However, beyond urging Congress to pass the Equality Act, he did little to mention social justice and racial justice issues that remain just as pertinent as those of the economy.” And Clemons was not the only student who held a similar viewpoint. Maloney expressed his unfulfilled desire for the acknowledgement of the domestic social issues that the country faces. “Though the war in Ukraine gives the United States an opportunity to unify,” Maloney stated, “it does not mean our systematic problems of inequality dissipate.” 

Due to rising domestic inflation, as well as the nature of the pandemic; Biden’s approval rating has suffered tremendously. And while the State of the Union Address, and arguably, to a limited extent, the war in the Ukraine may not be the most pressing issue in Saint Anselm student’s lives. Clemons and Maloney acknowledge the importance of political recognition. “Saint A’s students, especially those graduating, should understand that though the state of our economy does look bleak, it is not a permanent fixture as the United States will recover and job prospects will rise again.” Clemons explains, “[students] should understand that Biden is pushing to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as this will have significant implications on students working minimum wage jobs in the school as New Hampshire still holds the federal minimum of $7.25.” 

The State of the Union Address is not only a spoken message from the President himself, but also Congress who were all invited to attend the speech in person. Clemons explained how a key aspect of the State of the Union each year is seeing how half of Congress (the democratic party of the president) will clap when the President brings forth certain policy proposals while the other half does not (the Republican Party). However, it was noted that when Biden discussed the United States standing behind Ukraine and Putin’s illegitimate actions, he was met with bipartisan applause. This one act, out of the hour long speech, depicted the movement towards unity that our country demands to see.