SOTU Advice from Millennials: Invest in Our Future!

01/27/2011 08:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Those with the biggest stake in what the President says tonight are the young people who will inherit his decisions. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network shares hopes for what path our country can and should take. This post originally appeared on New Deal 2.0.

From Ross Mittiga, senior political science major and Campus Network Chapter President at the University of Florida:

"As a millennial (a phrase which signifies an American who does not have the luxury of myopia or the ability to be anything less than absolutely pragmatic), I hope to hear an affirmation of the claim that 'we are the people we have been waiting for.' I would like to hear emphasized the auto-actualizing belief that we are the rightful heirs generations of American insight and innovation and in that, we have a duty to move progressively forward. I would like to see emphasis placed on a reinvigorated effort to address failing educational standards in words that help the public to realize that education, more than any other sector, is the key to the viability of the American state and way of life; dedication to a new energy policy that addresses the toxic industries that control our power, which forces those industries to change in the wake of a changing climate, for the sake of American posterity and that of the rest of the world; a health care policy that trades the euphemisms 'private,' 'effective,' and 'industry-based' for new standards and labels, like compassionate, fair¸ and accessible (made possible, in part, through pursuing common-sense policies like a public option). I'd like to hear about campaign reform that redresses the undue and often obfuscated influence of moneyed and special interests through new public financing and transparency laws, reasserting that true American democracy is meant to be both of the people and for the people. Finally, I'd like to hear about a reasonable and appropriate defense strategy that protects and empowers Americans, something which cannot be truly achieved until substantial funding is directed away from our bloated military-contracting sector and towards programs that might more fully provide for our common future (such as clean energy, education, scientific research and development, health care, etc.). In short, I do not want to see the vague and empty rhetorical declaration of "American exceptionalism," to which so many of us bind ourselves, as if simply uttering the words will make them true. Instead, I want to see a path forward, lit by the full power of American executive leadership, which encourages the possibility of change, of innovation, of greatness, and of a future that I would be happy to share with the generations to come."

From Anna Peterson, junior history and mathematics double-major and the Campus Network Chapter Vice-President of Policy Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

"As he talks about investing in the future, I hope to hear the president discuss investment in education. What comes after short-term grants from the stimulus bill and Race to the Top, and how can we give schools the reliable funding they need in the long run? With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, education is bound to be on the agenda in the coming year, and I expect the president to emphasize the importance of education for economic recovery and in relation to global competition."

From Toto Martinez, first year political science major at UC Davis and a new member of the Roosevelt chapter:

"I would like to see the president echo some of the rhetoric from his 2008 presidential campaign. Specifically, he should focus on: closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, who pay a lower percentage in taxes than the average working person; fighting, at least, for a public health insurance option and applying anti-trust laws to the private health-insurance industry; campaign finance reform that bans contributions from any unions, corporations, or other special interest groups and only allows for the use of public funds that will keep candidates accountable to the American people; and a massive infrastructure program for the twentieth century that will put millions of people to work, just as Roosevelt did in the 1930s. He should not use 'compromise' as a scapegoat for all of his broken promises, but rather fight for the ideals that made the country strong in the past. He may go down fighting or he may ride a wave back to victory, but above all he must fight for our nation's democratic principles." ~

From Sahar Massachi, fourth-year student of computer science at Brandeis University and previous Summer Academy fellow with the Campus Network:

"Tonight, the Kremlinologists of Washington are expecting to pore over a careful, calibrated, and polished policy document disguised as a speech. They'll analyze every twist and turn of phrase for hints of Obama's plans for the next year. That's kind of sad; it doesn't have to be this way. Imagine a speech that teaches us what a positive and just foreign policy could be like, one that sketches out a story about what life in a progressive America could look like. Imagine a speech that speaks directly to us -- and ignores the expectations of the chattering class. I want to live in a world where Obama educates me about the world as it is, inspires me with a vision for a bright future -- and lays out a theory of how we can achieve that change together."