As you probably are aware, last night, president Barak Obama gave his second State of the Union address. Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch it live, as I was dealing with a hysterical screaming toddler.
To be honest, I feel conflicted about the State of the Union, and have for some years. On one hand, I've always felt that it's important to watch, regardless of who the president was at the time. Whether or not I voted for that particular president, he WAS the one that was inevitably voted into office, and I feel that he at least deserves to be listened to before he is critiqued.
Last night though, it wasn't so much what President Obama said that caught my attention, it was the mixed seating. Traditionally, the Republican party sits on one half of the room, and the Democratic party on the other. Each party stands and applauds parts of the speech that their party agrees with, and sometimes boos or jeers parts of the speech that they don't agree with. Every once in awhile, you'll find a Democrat applauding for a "Republican" ideal or visa versa, but for the post part, the party lines are quite literally drawn.
I've always hated this part of the State of the Union--the "us vs. them" mentality. Because the truth is, sometimes Democrats have good ideas. Sometimes Republicans have good ideas. The fact that the idea came from someone other than our own political party shouldn't automatically discount the value of the idea, but it often does. Our government seems to go against everything we teach our children in regards to interpersonal communication and relationships--with both sides throwing tantrums and essentially taking their toys and going home if they don't get their way.
Last night, at the State of the Union, a small portion of attendees bucked the 100 year trend, and went with mixed seating. Some Republicans and Democrats sat next to each other, rather than across the aisle. In fact, Coburn and Schumer (who heatedly battled over the 9/11 first responders bill) sat next to each other.
Personally, I thought it was great. I *hope* that it was more than symbolism--I *hope* it was a sign that we, as a nation, will knock of the hate-speech that both parties direct towards each other and begin to get things done. But I was interested to read that 65% of Americans polled reported that they thought the mixed seating was a bad idea.
What do you think? Were you happy to see the mixed seating? Irritated? Did you not care either way?