Tonight President Obama is scheduled to deliver his fifth State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress. This is a tradition in sync with presidential duties outlined in the U.S. Constitution:
“He [the President] shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” (Article II, Section 3)
While prior to the twentieth century many presidents chose to deliver a written report to Congressional hands, Franklin Roosevelt established the annual habit of the president orally presenting an account of the current condition of the nation and a priority outline of his legislative agenda for the upcoming year that details his vision for America. The advent of radio and television broadcasting has further changed the nature of this constitutional duty, drawing citizens into the communication loop as addressees of the president’s speech. And President Obama’s administration has still further equipped this centuries old tradition with a 21st century style, making it an enhanced and interactive experience for viewers at home.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough emphasizes: “The State of the Union is not just a conversation with Congress, but a conversation with you, the American people.”
The Obama Administration has been working hard to ensure that you can get ready for the conversation and continue it after the president’s concluding remarks through a variety of opportunities. Check out these ways you can participate:
1. Go behind the scenes. Get ready for the SOTU by going behind the scenes to see footage of the President preparing his speech with his staff. You can also follow the White House Storify account to see preparations for tonight’s event.
2. Watch the enhanced State of the Union. The White House will stream an enhanced version of the SOTU online featuring graphics, data, and charts to highlight and explain policies and issues.
3. Participate in the live ‘Open for Questions’ event. Immediately following the President’s address, you can ask your questions on Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Google+, and Facebook (#SOTUChat) and hear from a panel of senior White House advisors.
4. Join the President on his virtual roadtrip. With Google+ hangouts as his vehicle of choice (sorry Air Force One), President Obama is taking a virtual roadtrip across the country to continue discussing the issues and policies he laid out in his SOTU with citizens in all 50 states. Ask the President your questions now, and watch live on Friday, January 31.
5. #AskTheWhiteHouse. On Wednesday, January 29, dozens of White House officials will be manning social media for a day long ‘open house’ to answer your questions about the SOTU (#AsktheWH). This virtual open house nods to history when, in 1837, President Jackson held an open house at the White House that featured a 1,400-pound block of cheese for guests to snack on as they interacted with cabinet members and staff. Unfortunately, you’ll have to provision your own cheese ahead of Wednesday’s event.
President Obama will deliver his 2014 State of the Union Address tonight at 8 p.m. CT. You can catch the event broadcasted live on major television networks or online at www.whitehouse.gov/SOTU for an enhanced version.