What parts of the State of the Union ritual would you like to see change?

By tradition, Democrats and Republicans sit in separate sections at the State of the Union speech. But there is a movement to abandon that tradition this year. Today’s Question: What parts of the State of the Union ritual would you like to see change?

  • Josh D.

    The applause. The speech gets so broken up by applause lines that its often hard to follow. Everyone knows that the president’s party supports what the pres is saying, and the other party doesn’t, so what’s the need to show it on tv? Let the man speak, let the other party speak afterward, and let that be it.

  • The part where it became acceptable to stand up in the middle of the speech and shout things at the President. It didn’t happen to G.W. Bush, it didn’t happen to Clinton, and to the best of my knowledge it didn’t happen to G.H.W. Bush or Reagan either.

    I don’t know what changed to make it acceptable, but I don’t like it. I mean, people can say whatever they want to say, but when you invite the President to speak in your chambers, you wait until after the speech to say it, and give respect to the office, if not the person in the office.

  • Hiram

    More sacrificing of virgins?

  • GaryF

    I don’t watch them. I’ll read it the next day.

    Stop the stupid little commentary by the TV and radio announcers during the speech.

  • Tom

    I would agree that the applause must be stiffled. The address would take half the time if the president were just to speak on the state of our union and that was it. It would also be nice if viewers could make up their own minds of what they think of the president based on the merits of what he says about a policy and not on how one side reacts over the other.

  • Dianne

    I, too, would like to see the applause stopped until after the speech. I find it acceptable to applaud for the person/s whom the President may acknowledge in his speech. To further encourage civility (or to punish the lack of it), require the legislators to sit Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican. It worked when I was in school.

  • bsimon

    “What parts of the State of the Union ritual would you like to see change?”

    The opposition response. It’s supposed to be the state of the UNION. Setting aside time for the other party to rebut or respond is unbecoming.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Require every elected official in the room, and the one giving the rebuttal, to wear embarrassingly funny hats, so as to remind viewers not to take what they say too seriously. Likewise, require the talking hotheads that the media pit against each other for the post-speech cockfights to wear enormous boxing gloves, to illustrate what’s really going on.

  • EAL

    It is disappointing that Congress has been sitting based upon political parties. That needs to cease. At the crux of the issues today is that we have set aside that the freedoms we hold dear as outlined in the Constitution are universal. Ask those who fought/died during the American Revolution, the 625,000 who died during the civil war as well as those who fought social transformation for civil rights for all Americans.

  • James

    Like race car drivers, the politicians should be required to wear the logo of the companies that “donated” money for the election.

    Sounds funny,,, but I for one would avoid products from politicians that I do not align with.


  • kennedy

    I dislike the practice of using invited citizens to highlight political agenda items. Recognizing service and acheivement is one thing. Using that recognition for political manipulation demeans the honor.

  • Jordan P

    I’d like to see honesty. I don’t want the president to say the state of the union is good when it is clearly struggling.

    We’re all adults – give us the spin-free information we need.

  • Kristin

    I agree with keeping the applause until the end, maybe an applause when the president comes in and then at the end?

    If we really wanted to see their approval to each statement maybe they could have a little button to push dislike or like so at the end everyone can see which was most liked or disliked.

  • Anne Uehling

    I, too, would like to see the jumping up and down/applause stopped.

    I also like the idea stated above of having each member of Congress wear the logo/s of the their company “donors.”

  • Ralph P

    I would like to see the congress as a whole, all supreme court justices and cabinet members present and respectful of the office of the president by standing and applauding him at the beginning and end of his speech.

    I don’t think it matters where anyone sits if they are committed to show respect and dignity.

    I also would like to the speech be strictly a state of the union and not some event to single out and honor certain people and causes.

    This is the leaders of this most powerful and wealthy democratic country on the planet on display. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to all citizens and the world how to treat each other with respect and dignity in spite of differences.

  • Jeff S.

    The rebuttal. It seems discourteous and disingenuous to have a rebuttal prepared before the applause has died down. What does it teach people to demonstrate that you don’t even have to let other people speak before you start formulating a response to tear them down.

  • DNA

    A positive change in State of the Union ritual would be the President declaring the criminalization of the world’s most useful and versatile plant, Cannabis/Hemp/Marijuana/Ganja, as Unconstitutional … a crime against humanity and nature. The President could change the world for the better with this speech, it’s a talk that needs to happen and a mistake that need correction.

    See the award-winning documentary “The Union”


    and Hugh Downs Commentary on Hemp



    and Mr. X by Carl Sagan


    This account was written in 1969 for publication in Marihuana Reconsidered (1971). Sagan was in his mid-thirties at that time. He continued to use cannabis for the rest of his life.

    “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” – Carl Sagan

    Be very careful about locating good or God, right or wrong, legal or illegal, at your favorite level of consciousness. – Timothy Leary

    There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

    Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica. – Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President, from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany

    Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

    Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere! – George Washington, U.S. President

    Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.

    – Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President

    Some of my finest hours have been spent on the back of my veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as the eye can see. – Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President

    If the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.

    – Terence McKenna

    We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption. – John Adams, U.S. President

    Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could. – William F. Buckley, Jr

    ‎The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents. – William F. Buckley, 1983

    Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marihuana in private for personal use… Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marihuana. – Jimmy Carter, U.S. President: Message to Congress, August 2, 1977.

    ‎After two years of doctor-and-patient testimony, the D.E.A.s chief administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, ruled that ‘marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substance known to man’. – Nick Jones

    “Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.” – Bob Marley.

    That is not a drug. It’s a leaf. – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California

    The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our nation’s marijuana laws. – Barack Obama, U.S. President

    “I think we consume far more dangerous drugs that are legal: cigarette smoking, nicotine and alcohol. I feel they cause much more devastating effects physically. We need to lift the prohibition on marijuana.” former Surgeon General of the United States, Joycelyn Elders voicing her support for legalization of marijuana

    ‎”The war may not be quite over but any stigma still left lingering around cannabis consumption today is largely restricted to out of date and increasingly unenforced pieces of legislation. So indelibly stamped on our culture has cannabis become that it must now rank as the most popular and controversial plant on the planet.” – Nick Jones

    “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?”

    – Henry Ford

    For the sake of the People and the Planet, the ritual of avoidance of the truth needs to come to an end. This declaration of the world’s most useful and versatile plant, Cannabis/Hemp/Marijuana/Ganja, as Unconstitutional and the discussion of Hemp’s usefulness and cultivation needs immediate commencement.


  • Catfish Hartwig

    I think the applause in between only stretches out a boring pep talk even further. Take a hint from professional sports, networks should bid for the broadcast rights, so I don’t miss all my favorite television shows.