Benjamin Reeves | February 12 2013 9:55 EST
Attentive viewers of President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night might ask why various members of government (notably Vice President Joe Biden) are wearing orange or green ribbons, and what the ribbons mean. The ribbons are the latest fashion trend at the State of the Union, and seem to have taken center stage from the previously ubiquitous flag pin. Here's why:
The green ribbons worn at the State of the Union address, represent solidarity with the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. The green ribbons are predominately worn by Democratic lawmakers like Vice President Biden. The shooting massacre occurred on December 14, 2012 when gunman Adam Lanza entered the school and killed 20 children and six adults. The events at Sandy Hook have led to a renewed debate over gun control, which has been led by Democrats. Vice President Biden has been placed in charge of a Gun Violence Task Force to review the causes of gun violence in the U.S.
The orange ribbons represent the “Problem Solvers Caucus” created by the non-profit, bipartisan group No Labels. Some 40 lawmakers at the State of the Union are wearing the orange ribbons in an effort to build relationships, and solve problems, across the aisle.
"Wearing this pin is a statement that we've got to do a lot more than sit together. We've got to work together," No Labels honorary Co-Chair Sen. Joe Machin (D-WV) said Friday. “The 'problem solvers' is quite literally the only forum in DC where Democrats and Republicans can sit across from one another to discuss issues and forge solutions. I'm wearing this pin to the State of the Union because I think the 'problem solvers' can play a big role in breaking the gridlock in this town and because I want more of my colleagues to join.”
President Obama, unlike Vice President Biden, did not wear a green ribbon for Sandy Hook victims, but he did wear a flag pin, a choice likely meant to communicate visually and rhetorically that he is responsible for the entire nation as he delivers the State of the Union. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), however, did not wear a flag pin or green ribbon, perhaps to differentiate himself from the President and Vice President.