In my post from January of 2010, State of the Union vs. State of the Country, I noted how recent United States presidents regard the American Union as equivalent to the territory of the States that belong to it, which leads these presidents to address constitutionally irrelevant issues, as if the federal government is usurping the States.
My recent historical research confirms my point. The earliest States of the Union addresses read precisely like reports from the chairman of an organization, which is fitting because the president is, indeed, like a chairman of an organization, unlike the governor of a state who presides not only over state government, but must be concerned for the welfare of its citizens. The President presides over the Union of the States under the Constitution, for which his address is a report, while he is supposed to leave internal matters to the States, except only those powers granted the federal government by the Constitution. Indeed, the earlier Presidents sometimes even refer to the federal government as “our organization” because they recognized that they presided over a Union, not a geographic territory. They understood the importance of limited government, the federalist system created by the Framers of the Constitution whereby power was shared by the States and the Union they formed by that document.
Such matters as the economy or health care or insurance, therefore, are not directly relevant to the Union and ought not to be addressed in the annual presidential address to Congress on the state of the Union. Conservatives should call upon presidents to focus only on federal matters and to respect the rights of the States and the people, which would help to restore federalism by educating the electorate and by encouraging the federal government to perform its duty, which is to protect our rights, under those powers delegated to it by the Constitution.