Satire by Zach Aleba
Photo: Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives
Editor’s note: Happy Medium does not condone or encourage underage drinking. This is a satire piece and should not be played as a real drinking game.
President Joe Biden ran on a platform where the main talking points were essentially him eating an ice cream cone and the sentiment of “at least I’m not that other guy.” Unless you’re an irrational optimist (believe me, I envy you), his campaign left much to be desired in terms of actual actionable legislation proposals that seemed even slightly possible in today’s political climate.
We’re now nearly two years on, and even those who had measured expectations for this administration can’t help but feel disappointed and frustrated with the direction that his governing style has taken. The idea that anyone could swoop in and save this sinking ship is now, in hindsight, such a foolishly misguided proposition that you have no choice but to laugh lest you start crying.
The annual State of the Union Address is slated to be held on March 1st in the nation’s Capital. It’s an opportunity for pundits and citizens alike to have a chance at hearing the current administration’s plan for moving forward and to at least consider the possibility that this mess can be improved. However, I have little hope that the SOTU address will be anything other than further posturing, empty promises, and a continuation of the blame game that plagues American politics as a whole.
With my admittedly nihilistic beliefs at the forefront, I’d like to make a proposition that will be universally well-received: if we’re all going to sit through this, we may as well have a couple of drinks so that it doesn’t feel so damn miserable. This guiding principle led me to put together a drinking game of sorts, although drinking during the SOTU is less of a fun, quirky activity and more of an act of self-preservation.
Take a drink whenever Biden mentions inflation.
The inflation crisis has been a point of emphasis for every cable news network and talking head for months now, and with good reason. The inflation rate rose 7% in 2021, which marks the highest rate increase in twelve months since June 1982 (Pickert 2022). Whether this blame falls squarely on Biden’s shoulders is doubtful. Unfettered capitalism has led to businesses such as Procter & Gamble, a major conglomerate that sells everyday household items and owns the Dawn and Tide brands, talking out of both sides of their mouths. P&G spent their time enacting wholly unethical price hikes under the guise of necessity due to “inflation” while raking in record profits (Nguyen 2022). This is just one example of a parasitic business practice, and, regardless of whether or not Biden even has the resources to remedy this inflation, you can bet he’ll pontificate in a way as to quell everyone’s fears. The truth is that the inflation crisis only affects the average everyday American, while businesses and their shareholders make off with a bag full of cash every time.
Take a drink whenever the President uses a ‘Bidenism.’
At this point, the most memorable moments Biden has had as President are of the meme variety. These moments, such as having ‘folks’ as a prominent part of his vernacular and having the courage to tell Donald Trump to shut up at a debate in September of 2020, were part of what endeared him to a large swath of the Democratic Party voting base as well as many swing voters. Biden and his administration carefully curated this image of him as America’s grandfather, the calm and confident savior who would be more than happy to give a Republican legislator a noogie if they dared to stand in the way of his campaign promises. Of course, this act starts to lose its charm when the only time you hear “folks” lately is when it’s tacked onto the end of the sentence “I didn’t anticipate this level of Republican opposition.” Other words and phrases that count toward taking a drink may include: Biden imploring ‘both sides’ to find a solution for whatever issue he happens to be discussing, as well as a probable mention of ‘optimism’ and ‘hope.’ During the SOTU, you can bet he’ll still be using these same old cliches and patterns of speech that, to be fair, often infect the vocabulary of every sitting President.
Take a drink whenever President Biden mentions the Russia/Ukraine situation; take two if he says a Russian invasion of Ukraine is ‘imminent.’
If Biden is anything, he is the perfect mouthpiece for the military-industrial complex and a proponent of the ‘savior’ role for the rest of the world upon which the United States has traditionally felt compelled to act. For weeks, the administration has remained adamant that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent (Ott 2022). Their insistence of an imminent attack despite no invasion leads one to question their usage of the word. In a recent article for Happy Medium titled “A Case Against Intervention in Ukraine: The Prospect of War in Light of our Past Endeavors,” my colleague Desmond Keuper posits that the United States insistence on the narrative that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is a cut-and-dry case of if, not when, potentially has nothing to do with an actual interest in the preservation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. He argues further whether the US realistically has the right to intervene in the situation (Keuper 2022).
Finish your drink when President Biden mentions his accomplishments in office.
If nothing else, the SOTU address presents the sitting President with an opportunity to speak on all the supposed accomplishments achieved by the administration within the past twelve months. Essentially, Biden will have the ability to spout off about what the administration has accomplished without the inconvenience of proving his claims. Both Democratic and Republican incumbents practice this tactic; this dishonesty is present within all American politics irrespective of the side of the aisle on which a politician resides. Expect Biden to mention two accomplishments in particular: a $1.9 trillion economic relief package aimed at repairing some of the harm caused by the COVID pandemic and a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill (White House 2021). You can be sure that these pieces of legislation, while certainly important and impactful for many Americans, will be mentioned ad-nauseam to juice out any droplets of goodwill, of which this administration is currently in short supply.
When considering the possible directions the SOTU address could go that evening, it becomes difficult to see how Biden will leave the stage having inspired any confidence in the American people. The truth is that, while he is undoubtedly a flawed politician and not blameless in the current condition of our economy, Biden has dealt with a lot of bad faith criticism. With cable news outlets and tabloid magazines hyper-focused on every indiscretion, it’s a wonder anybody would ever aspire to be in his current position.
Giving our elected leaders the benefit of the doubt is an integral part of democracy itself. If we immediately dismiss every idea or politician that we don’t personally like, it becomes hard to find hope that the future can be better. Leading up to his SOTU address, we should hope for the best, brace for the worst, and better understand our place in the issues facing our nation.
Zach Aleba is a senior at Binghamton University, majoring in English. Prior to attending BU, he earned an A.A. degree in Liberal Arts from Borough of Manhattan Community College. He hails from Whitney Point, a small town about twenty minutes north of Binghamton. Zach has previously had work published on Parents.com, where he contributed to a young adult advice column. Aside from writing, he enjoys watching Mixed Martial Arts and training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.
“American Rescue Plan.” 2021. The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/american-rescue-plan/ (February 21, 2022).
Keuper, Desmond. 2022. “A Case Against Intervention in Ukraine: The Prospect of War in Light of our Past Endeavors.” Happy Medium, February 17. https://happymediummag.com/2022/02/17/a-case-against-intervention-in-ukraine-the-prospect-of-war-in-light-of-our-past-endeavors/ (February 18, 2022).
Nguyen, Janet. 2022. “Why are company profits rising despite inflation.” Marketplace, January 20. https://www.marketplace.org/2022/01/20/why-are-company-profits-rising-despite-inflation/ (February 18, 2022).
Ott, Halley. 2022. “U.S. says Russia moving toward “imminent invasion” of Ukraine amid “false-flag” concerns over shelling claims in Donbas.” CBS News, February 17. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-ukraine-news-donbas-rebels-shelling-putin-response-us-proposals/ (February 18, 2022).
Pickert, Reade. 2022. “U.S. Inflation Hits 39-Year High of 7%, Sets Stage for Fed Hike.” Bloomberg, January 12. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-12/inflation-in-u-s-registers-biggest-annual-gain-since-1982 (February 18, 2022).
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