“We don’t quit!”: Reflections after tonight’s SOTU address

Tonight while watching the State of the Union address, I thought back to the fall of 2008 and remembered how hopeful people were. Once Barack Obama is in office, they said, everything will be better.  My belly dance teacher thought her business would boom again, my friends who’d been laid off were sure they’d find work, and my mom called me on election night and declared, “Things ’bout to change now!” 

My expectations were not as lofty. Not because I doubted Obama’s sincerity, but because I knew, as President Obama said in his speech tonight, that change would not be easy. 

I must say I’ve been even less hopeful this past year. With all the bickering between political parties over bank bailouts, health-care reform and national security, my dreams of unity were dashed. I’ve been fortunate enough to hold on to employment during this recession. As you all know, I changed careers last summer. My husband quit his job so I could seize this opportunity, but he was able to find a new one. I can’t deny we’ve been blessed. But I have too many friends holding a college degree in one hand and a pink slip in the other. There was a time when I believed that, as Obama said tonight, education was the key to ending poverty. But these days my faith in that notion is shaky — and this is coming from a teacher!

I lie awake at night worried about health care. I worry I won’t be able to afford my lupus medication and doctor visits — and I have health insurance! What about my friend who’s exhibiting a host of lupus symptoms, but can’t be tested because she has no coverage? 

But our president is aware of the waning hope in the hearts of Americans, and I believe he truly wants to inspire us once again. Tonight he said he knows many doubt if he can actually live up to his campaign slogan of “Change You Can Believe In.” He took the blame for not making the health-care reform bill more understandable for the American people. I applaud his humility. (I also appreciate that he basically told everyone one in the room to grow up and even called out the Supreme Court justices while they were sitting right in front of him. Awesomeness!)

Obama left us with words that I know I needed to hear. He reminded us that change will not be easy and that he cannot do this alone. He reminded us that democracy is “noisy, messy, and complicated.” But he also reminded us of the resilience of our forefathers (and mothers) and made us a promise with the statement: “We don’t quit. I don’t quit.”

 Well said, Mr. President. This girl is still in the fight. 



  1. I know health care is a sore topic with everyone these days. I worry about if I will have a job (and benefits) by the time the baby comes, and if I don’t, how the heck are we going to pay for labor and delivery and peds appts and everything else. But I don’t think that relying on the government to solve this hypothetical problem for me is the answer. Thanks for the insights on Obama’s speech. I only got the wire versions (and still didn’t get to read all of it)…

  2. On one hand I am very inspired by our president. His hope and determination certainly beg us to do something ourselves. On the other hand, I can’t help but see the division among our law makers and say to myself, “we’re never going to get anything done.” I think that our president is powerless to change the hearts of his congress, and I think we the people deserve better than having people simply vote for bills because its their party’s will. I think what Obama needs in order to get anything done is for people to start thinking and voting for themselves. So all he really needs to do is to keep trying to convince senators and reps to do so.

  3. Real talk, Matt. You could see the division between lawmakers last night.

    THAT’S the real problem.

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