State of this Union
Let’s call the State of the Union address what it is and should be: a job performance review.
Colored pencil, pen, the 2019 State of the Union Address, google search for job performance review charts
Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the US Constitution 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.” Until 1923, the public of the United States of America didn’t hear or watch the President’s address to Congress (also previously referred to as the annual message). According to the House of Representatives Archives, the first radio broadcast of the address was made by President Coolidge in 1923, and the first televised broadcast by President Truman in 1947.
Over the course of the United States of America’s history, the address has served as an administrative report of executive branch departments and as an economic update. Only within the past 100 years has the speech become a platform for the President to discuss their general agenda (perhaps because the people are tuning in now). For Democrats, Republicans, and other various intersecting groups within the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is a place to show both steadfast allegiance and discontent. Overall, the address can be seen as a small part of a larger system of checks and balances that all Presidents are held accountable to.
But what purpose does the State of the Union serve for the people living in the United States of America? What would it look like for the address to be less political posturing and more part of a greater system of checks and balances? I propose we the people start calling it what it should be: a job performance review.
The President of the United States of America, like all federal employees, whether appointed, elected, or hired, works for the country. That job is only one piece of an incredibly complex democratic republic. Theoretically, every denizen of the United States of America is a supervisor of the president, and therefore a part of the complex system of checks and balances.
In job performance reviews, an employee discusses their personal performance with evidence while the supervisor listens, fact checks, and makes their own judgements. During a State of the Union, the President lays out their past achievements and future goals, and it is everyone listening who judges these facts and goals to come to their own individual conclusions. A performance review is judged against the job description, personal growth, and the prettily written formal speech you give in the meeting.
The stakes are just really high with this one.