State of the Union

From Time to Time.

Article II of the Constitution states the president “shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information on the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient . . .”

Originally delivered as a written report to the Congress, since the Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, presidents have delivered this report as an address or speech to Congress in the House chamber, and in the modern age,  on live TV. Traditionally the state of the union address served as the platform the president’s broad agenda for the legislative session. However, Congress has no obligation to act on the president’s goals or policies. While the modern state of the union address is more of a pep rally it is still an extremely powerful tool to capture the nation’s attention.

The University of California-Santa Barbara’s Presidency Project has all the past State of the Union addresses. Select one speech, read and analyze it.

Questions for Reflection:

1. What president and which speech did you select? What was the historical context of this State of the Union address?

2. What points did the president make?

3. What accomplishments did he mention?

4. What action(s) does he call for?