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This week’s State of the Union address, especially the brief mention of immigration reform, reminded me of iCarly. In one episode of the Nickelodeon show, Carly (protagonist and good girl) is coached by Samantha (aka Sam the bad girl, and every bit an antagonist and anti-hero) on how to win a teen beauty pageant. Carly gets some practical advice on important details like padding her bra, waving like a beauty queen and punctuating the answer to every question with “…for the children.” Sam says it doesn’t matter what the question is, the answer should always be something like “we must end world hunger…for the children.”

Well, President Obama went to the State of the Union pageant with a message of unification — something this country needs before we can move on. He supported every point with phrases like “work together” and “win the future.” When it came to the tough and divisive issue of immigration reform, he went with a safe “…for the children.” What’s more, it seemed like we need to fix immigration for the sake of the citizen’s children, not for the immigrants’children who are under threat of deportation as he pointed out. It behooves us to be competitive and keep young talent here, he said, rather than deporting people educated here so they can compete with us from their home countries. That should appeal to some people…like Tea Party followers?

It was good to hear Medicare/Medicaid and fixing the deficit in the same sentence. (I look forward to the President’s comments today at the Health Action Conference.) I also give the President a thumbs up for making a call for more teachers, and suggesting we consider teachers “nation builders” as they do in South Korea.

No one can fix the world in 61 minutes. (See Fraser Seitel’s review of the speech as far as PR effectiveness.) There really is a need for compromise and hard work ahead. But I heard so much compromise in a speech that relied heavily on old fashioned (meaning 19th century) manifest destiny of what a great nation we are because we outperformed everyone else. I don’t want to fix immigration in order to take advantage of young talent; I want to fix immigration because we’ve been taking advantage of talent (young and old) for two centuries and we haven’t recognized where we came from. Reforming immigration is about justice that begins at home, not global competition.

Am I the only person who gets the interconnectedness of the term glocal? I must not be alone if President Obama ended his speech with a great glocal example of a local Pennsylvania company that went global by helping the Chilean miners. Maybe this country is not ready for glocal, but the rest of the world might be. Instead of building a better border wall and worrying about who we’re taking to the State of the Union prom, let’s grow up, work together and really Race to the Top. Let’s not waste time in 19th century colonial competitions. It IS for the children – ALL the children.

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