Political Scientist Ben Berger Critiques President Obama's State of the Union Address

Associate Professor Ben Berger

WHYY's Radio Times: Analyzing the State of the Union and the Republican response

Associate Professor of Political Science Ben Berger shared his thoughts on President Obama's State of the Union address as a guest of Radio Times, a current affairs program broadcast on WHYY. Listen to the full show.

President Obama outlined his second-term agenda on February 12, focusing on the middle-class, economic growth, and proposed initiatives aimed at education, infrastructure, clean energy, and manufacturing. Obama also discussed gun control, immigration, and entitlements - issues that traditionally polarize Republicans and Democrats.

Berger said he believes there is an appetite for compromise among the American public, but "in Congress, I don't think so."

Berger also remarked that the traditional liberal message has become increasingly moderate as the President begins his second term. He said political ideology has become a different conversation because the "entire spectrum has moved further to the right. (Obama) is trying to articulate things that don't just harken back to LBJ, but really to FDR in terms of big principles."

In general, Berger described Obama's speech as "ambitious, but boring" and added that the Republican response by Sen. Marco Rubio as underwhelming.

Other guests on the program were Villanova University Professor of Political Science Lara Brown and Imani Perry, professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.

Berger is one of 26 Periclean Faculty Leaders nationwide and directs Swarthmore's Engaging Democracy Project, a program designed to promote community engagement, political participation, and responsible citizenship in the classroom, on campus, and in the wider community. His award-winning book, Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civic Engagement (2011), analyzes citizens' inattention throughout history up through the present day.