President Obama began his State of the Union address noting the tragedy in Tucson and its role in uniting the nation together, during a time where politics seem to have become nothing more than a blame game between two parties. Throughout his speech, he maintained a hope of bipartisanship in the new year, which was even echoed by the Democrats and Republicans intermingling with each other in the audience.
I found myself curious if Representative Paul Ryan, the man responding for the Republicans, would maintain this tone centered on bipartisanship. And when Rep. Ryan began his speech, I initially thought he would, when he himself pointed out that “no one person or party is responsible” for the nation’s problems. However, my naïve hope that American politicians, for once, would not play the blame game and instead focus on cooperation was short-lived.
In what seemed to be merely seconds later, Rep. Ryan set his sights right on President Obama, putting the blame for many of the nation’s problems, specifically the large deficit, onto our increasingly unpopular leader. Good ol’ American politics was back in business, and at that moment, my expectations of bipartisanship in 2011 dropped lower than former President George W. Bush’s approval ratings. To be fair, much of the blame Rep. Ryan laid down on President Obama had its merit; the stimulus package, for example, has not been nearly as successful as much of the American population had hoped.
What vexed me, however, was the lack of an alternative to rectify these problems. For example, regarding unemployment, Rep. Ryan boldly declared that “limited government and free enterprise” were the “real secret to job creation,” an assertion that seems credulous at best. While I may only be a high school junior, you don’t need to be an economist to know that simply restricting the government’s actions will not magically create jobs, at least not during a time plagued by low consumer confidence.
Ultimately, Rep. Ryan’s primary message cautioning the nation about its enormous deficit is still one that Democrats and Republicans alike can agree upon. Perhaps the most we can do is just hope that both parties do not merely continue the blame game but, instead, work together to solve these problems. Two heads are better than one.
Vijay Singh is a junior at Bellarmine College Preparatory school in San Jose, Calif.