At the 2011 State of the Union Address by President Obama, Republican and Democrat legislators will sit together for–according to those who claim to know such things–the first time in American history.
Mark Udall (I-UT), called on legislators on both sides of the aisle to set aside partisanship:
“The President’s State of the Union address sets the agenda for the year – the challenges and opportunities we face. But what Americans see when they watch it on TV is a Congress that is bitterly divided by party, It sets a negative tone that only perpetuates the narrative that Congress cannot – and will not – come together for the good of the country we all love. Beyond custom, there is no rule or reason that on this night we should emphasize divided government, separated by party, instead of being seen united as a country.”
“After serving over a decade in the House and Senate, I know that more unites us than divides us, and now – more than ever – we need to find ways to dial down the political rhetoric and set a positive example for all Americans. Our country has been talking about changing the way Washington works, and now it’s time to take action by crossing the aisle and sitting together. It’s a simple step, but an important one that will go a long way in bridging our political divide. So I’m asking my colleagues to join me in sitting side-by-side in a symbolic gesture that reflects the diversity in the communities we represent.”
From all indications, Udall’s call has been accepted and, when Obama delivers the 2011 SOTU to a joint session of congress on Tuesday, 26 January 2011, the legislators will be sitting together rather than in the customary clustering of Republicans on one side, Democrats on the other.
Democrats seem to think this a great idea, but a number of Republicans have decried the move as one that gives enormous concessions to the minority Democrat house, at the expense of the Republican majority.
Perhaps it does.
Question is, does it really matter? Isn’t the appearance of unity, in the midst of genuinely deep disunity, just smoke and mirrors anyway?
Does anyone really believe that the American people will be fooled by this display of unity when, from all other indications, it is in actuality a farce?
We will soon find out…
Update: 26 January 2011
Why did anybody worry about this? It wasn’t a problem. In fact, it is this writer’s opinion that having our legislators sit together rather than in partisan clusters made for a more sedate, less acrimonious, atmosphere. That, by the way, is an improvement, not the other way around.
As for the content of the SOTU, well, that’s another story. It’s in process. Stay tuned.
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