Obama’s State of the Union address highlighted an optimistic, centrist view of the United States. He boldly proclaimed that the U.S. retains the most powerful and prosperous economy. While he cited points of decline in our education system, job market, and health care system, the overall tone of his speech was one of optimism.
There’s no other way to go about delivering an address to the United States of America. Americans are very proud of their country’s supremacy, and disenchanted by talk of subversion by foreign powers. This is something the United States needs to prepare itself for.
The People’s Republic of China is on the rise. China has maintained annual growth rates of 10%, has overtaken Japan as the world’s second most prosperous economy, and shows no sign of relenting. And while we boast of our dominant economy, we are drowning in a debilitating $14 trillion debt, which China holds a large stake in. It is frustrating that our country has failed to grasp our troubling state of affairs.
There is little to be done about the inevitable rise of foreign nations. There is something that can and should be done about our attitude and perception. Our arrogance, narcissism, and entitlement impede diplomacy. In his State of the Union Address, Obama asserted that Americans will continue to beat competing powers, and spoke aggressively when discussing our relationship with China. He urged Americans to pursue careers as teachers and to study math and science. What disappointed me was his failure to mention a more fundamental necessity of Americans – to study foreign languages.
Our inability to master the languages of our partners in the world is the greatest reflection of our narcissism. Americans need to understand that in a few years our world supremacy will come into question and our economy will continue to be rivaled. Obama talked about beating China and winning the future as if the future is something to be won instead of shared. In his speech, more emphasis should have been placed upon our partnership with China and other foreign powers and our commitment to diplomacy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we must envision a future where we no longer lead the pack. If we internalize this reality we will be more adept at progressing into the future.