Thinker's Chronicle

2023 State of the Union – Recapped

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How many teenagers and adults these days listen to the State of the Union Address every year? According to the Nielsen company, on February 7th, 2023, “an estimated 27.3 million people watched President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on television, the second smallest audience for the annual event in at least 30 years.” In addition, “nearly three-quarters of the people who watched Biden’s speech were 55 and older,” Nielsen added. “Only 5% were young adults under the age of 35.”

For most teenagers and adults, it should be important to watch speeches such as the State of the Union Address in order for them to understand what is happening in the world around them.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the State of the Union Address is “an annual address delivered by the president of the United States to Congress, typically at the beginning of the year, giving the administration’s view of the state of the nation and plans for legislation.” It is a tradition that was set forth in the Constitution, which states that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The president usually sets out plans, goals, and intentions for the upcoming year and updates Congress on the state of national affairs. During the speech, the president encourages Congress to pass key parts of his or her legislative agenda. Nevertheless, the actual main audience is the people of America, because presidents try to ensure public support and, in turn, pressure Congress to act.

George Washington was the first president to give a State of the Union speech, on January 8, 1790. The next president, Thomas Jefferson, discontinued the tradition because he thought it was “monarchical.” This tradition was continued by President Woodrow Wilson, who used it as an oral presentation to Congress. 

Main Topics Covered

This year, President Biden gave his State of the Union speech on February 7th, 2023. Biden started off his speech by explaining that Vladimir Putin horribly “miscalculated” when he thought he could bend the world to his ways. Biden further explained how Putin thought he could take over Ukraine but was met by the Ukrainian people, an unimaginable wall of strength and how the Ukrainian people are a huge inspiration. He states that the United States of America stands with the people of Ukraine.


One of the biggest takeaways during this speech was that Biden was heckled by many members of the GOP during his speech. During his speech, Biden listed a few areas where there is a potential for bipartisan agreement, but he mostly talked about areas that leaned towards the wish list of the Democratic party.

At some point during his speech, he brought up that the Republicans want to “sunset” the Medicare and Social Security programs. Biden was referring to the plan from Senator Rick Scott that was released last year, which called for all federal legislation to either be reauthorized every five years or lapse. When Biden mentioned this plan, this led to the start of what might even be called “aggressive” heckling by many in the GOP party, with many calling him a liar. Biden then used this uproar to prove his point that these programs should not have any cuts. He specified that “apparently, it’s not going to be a problem.”

In addition, Biden proposed the codification of abortion rights, a new tax on billionaires, labor union protections, and an assault weapons ban, but there is a low chance of any of these getting passed as the GOP holds a majority in the House of Representatives. At some point during the speech, Representative Andy Ogles accused Biden of being to blame for the estimated 70,000-plus American deaths per year from fentanyl.

During his speech, President Biden also addressed Tyre Nichols’ death and explained how he never had to discuss with his children how to reduce the danger if they were stopped by police. Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old African American man who died on January 10th, three days after he was severely beaten by five Memphis police officers, all of whom were also black. The police officers have now all been fired and charged with second degree murder. Biden asked Congress to “finish the job” on police reforms.


Overall, listening to the State of the Union Address every year gives the people ideas of what kind of legislation they might see in the following year. This is important because it shows the people what goals the president has for the year.

Asmitha Daggumati