As Crikey hits the publish button on today’s edition, President Barack Obama is standing before the US Congress to deliver his last State of the Union address.
His foreign policy record is decidedly mixed, with the rise of Islamic State and terror attacks the world over occurring on his watch. Guantanamo Bay remains stubbornly open, and the US’ drone warfare program raises troubling questions. But the Paris climate talks, the Iran nuclear deal and thawing relations with Cuba can be put in the win column.
But domestically, Obama has done more for Americans than any other US president in recent memory. Obamacare is not perfect, but millions of Americans who were uninsured — and faced bankruptcy, foreclosure or worse, should a medical emergency arise — are now guaranteed health insurance. Obama attempted — though the attempt is being stymied by state legislatures — to give undocumented immigrants and their children the chance at a better life in America. And the American economy has rebounded from its Bush-era doldrums.
There is one more thing on Obama’s domestic agenda, and he should make it his highest priority in his year left in office: gun control. Obama does not have the compliant legislature John Howard had in 1996, but he has executive orders at his disposal and the world’s largest bully pulpit. He has already indicated that he will do whatever is in his power to keep guns out of the wrong hands in the US. Let’s hope that comes to fruition, because while 30,000 Americans are shot to death every year (and as of right now armed terrorists have occupied a federal building in the US state of Oregon for 11 days and counting), the state of the union will never be strong.