The C Is for Crank

What I Hope Obama Addresses Tonight

What I hope Obama addresses in his State of the Union address tonight.

By Erica C. Barnett January 28, 2014

I've been locked down on a feature for the magazine for much of the day, but I, along with my colleague Josh Feit (who was tweeting from Olympia today as former Arizona U.S. Rep Gabby Giffords testified in favor of I-594, the gun background check initiative), will be watching (and tweeting from) Obama's State of the Union address (and the Republican response from Washington state U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane) this evening. 

In the meantime, here's a brief list of items I'd love to hear Obama address in his speech (where he's planning to announce an executive order to raise the federal minimum wage for companies that receive federal contracts to $10.10 an hour, a move that will increase wages for more than 500,000 Americans whether Congress likes it or not)—and one turn of phrase I definitely hope he won't resort to.

1. Income inequality. Not "moving up the economic ladder," not "equality of opportunity." Income inequality.

2. The gender wage gap. Women in the U.S. still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Wage discrimination is illegal, and it's wrong, but it still happens. It's time to stop it. 

3. State laws that are eliminating abortion rights for millions of Americans, despite the persistence of federal law that technically protects a woman's right to choose. To quote the director of the anti-choice Christian Defense Coalition, choice opponents know that "We don't have to see a Roe v. Wade overturned in the Supreme Court to end it. … We want to. But if we chip away and chip away, we'll find out that Roe really has no impact. And that's what we are doing."

4. Health care as a human right (and an economically sound social investment). 

5. The need to actually combat climate change, as opposed to "debating" whether it's anthropogenic. When the L.A. Times is refusing to publish letters denying the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is real and caused by human activity, the President wouldn't exactly be going out on a limb to affirm the same. 

6. And finally, one thing I would be thrilled not to hear from Obama: Any reference to women as "our wives, sisters, daughters and mothers," or any other version thereof. I am a person, Mr. President, to be defined by my humanity and not my relationship to other people, and men like you should support my rights without having to think of me as one of "our" female relatives. 
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