It’s time to Break It Down!
Two days ago, our nation’s 44th President addressed the Country in its 57th Inauguration. It took a while, but on Monday, at long last, President Obama proclaimed in no uncertain terms, and in full-throat, his personal belief that Americais indeed, an exceptional nation. So often, spokesmen of rival political and ideological factions have derided the President because they contend the President rejects the exceptionalism of America.
Of course, it should be noted, he did so in his own inimitable style; using phraseology that his most robustly ardent critics decried…as they always do, no matter what he says.In this particular instance, what he said was:
- “What makes us exceptional, what makes us America is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
As the President expounded on the relevance of the historic phrase in contemporary terms, he said:
- Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing. That while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on earth.
The “Rushites,” the Fox Newsteam, the Tea Party Movement, and Republican elected officials and many of the voters who made them (elected officials) likely winced and released a collective audible sigh, if in fact they bothered to watch/listen to the President’s remarks.
At Fox News, they get paid to follow and critique the President, so I took a moment to observe the reaction by the Fox Newscrew. I can say truly, I do not recall a single commentator saying he or she found anything positive in the President’s speech. If only that were news, original, or even unusual!
As most of you know, Monday was a double bonus for Americans who believe in social justice, value diversity, and hope to see the emergence a progressive American agenda. I suppose that made it a dual bane for the Right Wing zealotry. It was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and President Obama’s second Inauguration. POTUS acknowledged and validated the significance of these twin occasions by brilliantly weaving the spirit and themes of various civil rights movements with words and propositions put forth by America’s Founding Fathers in our country’s primordial documents; the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
At several pauses, pregnant with the weight of the moment, the President infused his remarks with a simple and eloquent phrase, taken directly from the Constitution:“We, the people!”
The opening of the Constitution in its original form is written thusly:
- “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
President Obama used the golden phrase five times; each time to distill and drive home a salient point central to his address. They include:
- “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
- “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.”
- “We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
- “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
- “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
In choosing his remarks, thePresident elevated the ideals of the Founders, but emphasized need for what comedian, television host, and political commentator Bill Maher refers to as New Rules. In other words, the principles may be eternal, but the mechanisms for implementation must be altered to fit the times. President Obama put it this way:
- “For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
In articulating his second Inaugural message, the President spoke confidently; resolutely. He seemed to know the moment was his, and he embraced that knowledge.That simple truth serves to ensure that a country often described as split down the middle will not likely soon settle into a nationwide chorus of “We Are The World.” Add to that a vengeful Right Wing, still bitter from November’sloss, juxtaposed against, Democrats aching to see “their guy” grow a spine and fight more vigorously for issues they believe in.
With that in mind, POTUS used part of his nineteen-minute speech to call for Americans to work collaboratively in an effort to conquer our country’s challenges. Specifically, he said:
- “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together.”
Still, in broaching the subject of seeking cooperation, he resisted the idea that “saving the children…and their future, means deep-sixing Boomers and the elderly. In fact, he adamantly opposed such a position. He put it thusly:
- “But we flatly reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
One sequence, to which conservatives on the news and talk circuits seemed to take utmost umbrage, was the President’s robust defense of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. He maintained that America’s commitment to these programs does not sap our initiative; rather it strengthens it.He submitted that these commitments do not make the United States a country of takers; rather they free us to take the risks that make us great.
In distilling the discussion to its essence, POTUS framed the matter sublimely, saying:
- “Progress does not compel us to settle century’s long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.”
To provide you with a more personal sense of the moment, I have provided links to both video of the President’s speech, as well as the text. With that I give you a composite of the 2013 Inaugural; “President Obama 2.0: In Our Time!”
I’m done; holla back.
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