Ah, the State of the Union and the presidency:

[The State of the Union] would be the most embarrassing ceremony in the nation’s civic liturgy, were the nation still capable of being embarrassed by its puerile faith in presidential magic.

This is from George Will’s excellent take on the practice of giving a State of the Union address. It is – like many aspects of our current far-reaching government – a very “modern” practice – being somewhat less than 100 years old, at least in its annual regularity. Like the income tax, which, incidentally, turns only 100 years old today (as a Constitutional fixture), it would be better that we did without this new annual tradition.

My favorite funny paragraph from Will’s piece:

The Constitution laconically requires only that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Nothing requires “from time to time” to be construed as “every damn year.” Informing and recommending need not involve today’s tawdry ritual of wishful thinking by presidents unhinged from political reality and histrionics by their audiences. And must we be annually reminded that all presidents think that everything they want is “necessary and expedient”?

and perhaps the most important point is this:

When the Founding generation was developing customs and manners appropriate to a republic, George Washington and John Adams made the mistake of going to Congress to do their constitutional duty of informing and recommending. Jefferson, however, disliked the sound of his voice — such an aversion is a vanishingly rare presidential virtue — and considered it monarchical for the executive to lecture the legislature, the lofty instructing underlings. So he sent written thoughts to Capitol Hill…

It is deliberately not discussed in Evolve, Part 3: Emergent Order that Ivy does or does not give a State of the Union address either to his state or to the nation (yes, I just spoiled the ending, but it is no doubt obvious to readers anyway). It should be obvious that he does not and would not. Ivy, like Jefferson, is pretty clearly not of the mind to hear himself speak and not of the mind to engage in a spectacle in which others must listen to him speak.

-JD Cross

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