Bernie Sanders Responds To Obama's State Of The Union With An Optimistic Message

Bernie Sanders has had a long career in politics, so naturally, he has witnessed quite a few State of the Union addresses under quite a few presidents in his time as an elected official. On Tuesday, Sanders responded to Obama's final State of the Union, and made his support of the president known. Although his opinion of the president has generally leaned toward favorability, Sanders has openly criticized him more than once, such as his heavy censure of trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Most recently, Sanders' concerns for 2016 include the United States immigration system, for-profit prisons, environmental changes, and of course, income inequality and the declining middle class. Which means he naturally had a few words to say about the most recent SOTU.

Just one year ago, following the 2015 SOTU address, Sanders praised Obama's work to put the United States in better financial shape than it was when he took office in 2009. But he criticized the president's failure to discuss the real unemployment rate — 11 percent when including those who work part time and who have stopped looking for work. This time around, unemployment is at 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and Sanders praised the president for mentioning the necessity for the discussion-based nature of American politics, as well as his belief in change. He felt strongly aligned with Obama's views for America in 2016 and in coming years:

Tonight’s speech was important. The president reminded us not to be afraid of change, but to wield it to improve the lives of all Americans.

In the past, Sanders has criticized Obama for his failure to detail any plans of attack on Wall Street. Since the cornerstone of Sanders' platform is economic issues — such as minimizing income inequality, removing big money from American politics, reforming Wall Street, and strengthening the job market — he would have preferred that the president mention those important aspects of America in greater detail on past occasions. No such criticism was uttered after the 2016 State of the Union, however. Sanders has kept his evaluative remarks toward Obama's address entirely optimistic and forward-looking.

Overall, Sanders' general sentiment was hopeful, and his assessment positive. Since recent polls show that Hillary Clinton's lead over Sanders in the presidential race is closing, only time will tell whether he will be making his own State of the Union address next year.