President Obama Championed Science And Innovation In State Of The Union Address

"You'll be pretty lonely."

For the seventh and final time, President Barack Obama addressed Congress and the American people in his State of the Union address (SOTU). These speeches are intended to celebrate what the country is doing right, as well as highlight where there is room for improvement.

POTUS predictably started out by talking about the state of the economy, urging for more corporate responsibility and fewer burdens on the average American family.

His second main point may have taken some people by surprise: He asked what we need to do to invigorate innovation in the country.

"Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn't deny Sputnik was up there," Obama said, an obvious jab at politicians and corporations that insist human-driven climate change is not real. "We didn't argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and 12 years later, we were walking on the moon."

Humankind is now facing one of the largest obstacles it has ever seen, and it will be up to brilliant scientists and creative thinkers to come up with ways of solving these problems. That daunting task will be made easier given the country's track record of cultivating some of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen, according to the president.

"That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. America is Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. America is Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride," he reminded the audience.

He went on to state that the adventurous spirit that is necessary to making these huge advancements isn't restricted to one area, it can be found all over the country. He went on to talk about the fight to make Internet access more available to all, and preventing corporate throttles and price gouging. The country has been hard at work to allow more people at the cutting edge of innovation.

"But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they've had in over a decade," he said, pausing to allow for the thunderous standing ovation from dignitaries conservative and liberal alike. 

Biden has been championing the issue of advancing cancer treatment since losing his son Beau in 2015 to brain cancer. 

"Tonight, I'm announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he's gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I'm putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all," he announced, with Biden sitting behind him, obviously touched by the president's words.

While few would seek to politicize the need for medical research, the president argued that the same collective effort should also be applied to addressing climate change. It quickly became very clear that he is no longer interested in entertaining uninformed dissenting opinions.

"Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You'll be pretty lonely, because you'll be debating our military, most of America's business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it's a problem and intend to solve it."

The fact that not as many people were on board with these comments highlights how important it was that Obama didn't mince words. It was arguably one of the most epic mic drop moments not just of the night, but in any SOTU in recent memory.

He went on to explain that even if you are one to defy reason and go against the clear science, there are incredible economic benefits to championing clean energy technology, a sentiment shared by clean energy advocate, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Check out Obama's entire address here, and jump to 21:30 to hear his thoughts on how to reinvigorate the American spirit when it comes to science and innovation.


What did you think of Obama's final SOTU? Let us know in the comments!

Cover image: PBS News Hour


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