President Biden’s State of the Union address, delivered this past Tuesday, March 1, 2022, was ideally placed within the context of current global events. The unconcealed polarization of the United States, with both major political parties skewing further and further towards extremes, as well as the war in Europe, which has changed the status quo of relative international peace in the post-Soviet states, has left the United States in a difficult spot. With both domestic and international divisions, Biden’s State of the Union address had one overarching theme: unity.
Earlier in the day, before the State of the Union address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky implored President Biden to “send a useful message” as his country tried to fight off the Russian invaders. During the minutes leading up to Biden’s address, the House chamber was filled with images from a darkened Kyiv silhouette. Despite the very unusual times, Biden’s address was backed by a sense of normalcy. During his speech, President Biden also acknowledged the ambassador from Ukraine, who received condolences from the rest of the chamber and an embrace from the First Lady. Similar to the speeches given during the Cold War, and after 9/11, the President proclaimed that “freedom will always triumph” to a cheering chamber.
The President also used the decrease in Covid safety measures as a symbolic representation of a healing United States that was once again united, stating “This year, we’re finally together again”. Unlike the calm and collected style of his conventional speeches, President Biden chose a more festive approach, adopting a cheerleading tone as he rallied his country to continue to unite. While the heckles from some representatives in the crowd showed that the United States had a long way to come before we could heal politically, Biden’s hope for a better future still summarizes the efforts of his administration and outlined the future of his policies. While his speech was filled with classic slogans and policy lines, it remained spirited, concluding with a rallying cry “Go get ‘em”. While this final statement left many confused about the context of this last exclamation, as James Poniewozik of the New York Times stated, “sometimes in politics, the volume itself is the message.”