For generations, in times of war and in times of peace, the U.S. president has told the American people that the country’s union is “strong.”
Ben Riseman expects President Barack Obama to continue that theme when he gives the first State of the Union address of his second term at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
“I will definitely expect him to say that, but I want to see how President Obama is going to defend that the state of the union is strong if things aren’t necessarily that much better than four years ago,” said Riseman, a senior at North Forsyth High School. “He obviously hasn’t come through on all his promises.”
At South Forsyth High, senior Vijeth Mudalegundi said it’s not just the economy he expects Obama to address.
“I hope he talks a little more about immigration, because that’s such a hot-button issue right now,” Mudalegundi said. “And we have so many people in the South in particular who are illegal immigrants.”
Riseman and Mudalegundi, both of whom are taking an Advanced Placement U.S. government class at their schools, will be among the many new or future Forsyth County voters tuning in to the address this week.
Riseman said he expects Obama will make the country sound like it’s better off than it actually is, but “I don’t know how.”
Jaewon Shin, a classmate of Mudalegundi’s at South, said he anticipates illegal immigration being a topic, particularly involving students who “came to this country illegally but not on their own desires.
“To deny them of American citizenship, although they’ve lived here all their life, I guess that’s something I want to see changed,” Shin said.
To Dru Horne, a North senior who’s in the same AP class as Riseman, Obama’s address likely will have to cover a lot of ground.
“There’s so much that has gone on this past year,” he said. “There are so many other things that it’s hard to say for sure what he talks about … but the biggest thing obviously is the national debt and how all that’s playing out.”
Horne noted the president likely will also touch on the “fiscal cliff’ and embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Riseman said he hopes Obama steps away from fiscal and international updates to talk about social issues.
“But it seems like that has taken a back seat in the past year or so,” Riseman said. “I think those are the things that affect most people’s lives directly.”
Regardless of political parties and social and fiscal views, Horne said the State of the Union address is a great way for people to “know where we stand and what our plans going forward are.”
“I just enjoy being connected on what’s going on and knowing what to expect and being able to talk about politics with an open mind rather than just having a strict set of viewpoints that I argue from,” he said.
“Watching things like the State of the Union Address and Sunday morning talk shows just opens up the world to me.”
Mudalegundi likened the address to a “civic duty.”
“We want to know what’s going on in our country and what’s going on around us,” Mudalegundi said. “I’m expecting to hear a little more about the upcoming sequestration, possibly improving jobs and the economy and pretty much all major themes … and what we can do better to keep on the road to recovery to keep our economy strong.”