NMU students offer mixed reaction to president’s address

MARQUETTE – Reaction to President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address is mixed among some Northern Michigan University students.

However, one common theme seemed to rise above the politics for the students – the need to work together.

Justin Bis, president of the NMU College Republicans, said he hopes the president will practice what he preached.

“We watched the inauguration together. There was absolutely no ill will,” Bis said. “A lot of it was talking about being together and moving forward, as Americans. We really hope that translates into how he’s going to govern. We have a lot of things coming up with the whole gun debate and the whole fiscal cliff debate. We hope he governs the way he says he’s going to govern.”

Bis said he’s looking to the president to reach across the aisle more than he has in the past.

“We mean doing it in more of a bipartisan fashion, in a way that’s open and not hostile, in a way that he may be able to incorporate some ideas on our side of the aisle,” Bis said. “We hope that there’s some spending cuts rather than revenue increases, less gun control rather than more gun control … Our issue with the president so far is he’s always tried to find the 51 percent majority in any vote or any election and just ram it down without regard for any other ideas or the political process.”

Drew Janego, president of the NMU College Democrats, said he was very impressed with the president’s speech.

“The president laid out really, a lot of crucial issues I think are important that we need to tackle in the future,” Janego said. “He dealt with global warming, he dealt with gay marriage, he dealt with the debt, he dealt with immigration, and he really laid out a plan of action and stated, ‘This isn’t an option. We need to get this stuff done for us and the next generation.”

Janego said he hopes elected officials in Washington can begin working together on issues that seemed impossible to work on in the past four years.

“His first term was riddled with a lot of hostility from the Republicans in Congress, a lot of people being very staunch in their positions and objecting to a lot of the president’s positions,” Janego said. “What his speech was about yesterday was, ‘I’m here to work together with you, but we can’t fight and not get things done. We need to work together and work together on behalf of the country. We can have differences of opinion, but those differences of opinion can’t stop us from action.'”

Ben Stanley, president of the Associated Students of NMU, said that particular theme struck him as he watched Obama speak.

“I really liked how he was talking about how, not one person can do all this and not one person can do all that, but we have to work together, how he really focused on the unity of America, how we can’t look after ourselves but look after each other and work together,” Stanley said. “The overall feeling of working together really struck me.”

Stanley said he has seen how difficult it is for government to get things gone when its members cannot work together.

“I have witnessed government not working together first hand and just seeing how little it brings you forward,” he said. “When you don’t work together, there’s no point to it.”

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.