President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union on Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST, setting the tone for the concluding year of his presidency even as much of the political hive mind leaves Washington behind to focus on the campaign trail. He’s promised that it will be a “non-traditional” State of the Union. While it isn’t entirely clear what that means—a speech delivered in iambic pentameter, perhaps?—here are some of the things we should be looking for when Obama heads to the Capitol to address Congress and the Nation on Tuesday evening.
1. First off, something you won’t be seeing — specific policy goals. With just one year left in office and an obstructionist Republican congress unlikely to yield to any of his proposals, laying out any new policy goals would likely be a fool’s errand. Instead, Politico notes, the President will go back to what made him popular in the first place and offer broad strokes about his vision for our society. He’ll likely present a more optimistic tone than we’ve seen from him over the past few years, a stark contrast from the doom-and-gloom that has dominated the campaign trail among both Republicans and Democrats.
2. Expect President Obama to talk about guns and gun control, continuing the conversation he began when he presented a set of newly signed executive orders last week. First Lady Michelle Obama’s box will include an empty seat to honor victims of gun violence. The President will likely reinforce his commitment to new laws, all while maintaining his support for the Second Amendment.
3. With the attacks in Paris and San Bernadino still on the mind, Tuesday’s State of the Union is sure to address ISIS and terrorism in general. The New York Times notes that that the president will need to strike a balance between taking the threats seriously and overselling the danger that Americans face from terrorist attacks.
4. Expect to hear about jobs and the economy. December’s jobs report, which was released last week, revealed an encouraging employment picture. That’s the sort of thing Obama will want to highlight as a sign that the state of the union has strengthened during his time in office.
5. Finally, expect at least an indirect emphasis on the Obama legacy.While it won’t be a year-by-year review of his time in office, you can expect the speech to serve as an encapsulation of what the Obama era has meant through the eyes of the man himself.