Conflict of Visions–Obama v. Reagan–Videos

Posted on January 22, 2013. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Communications, Cult, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, People, Philosophy, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Video, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Barack H. Obama

barack-obama-flag_close_up

Barack Obama 2013 Inauguration Speech

Inauguration 2013: Highlights From Obama’s Speech

Krauthammer: Obama Just Declared That The Era Of ‘Big Government Is Back’

Fox News Panel Reacts To Obama’s Inaugural Address: ‘Call To Arms For A Liberal

Fox Panel Discussion: Media Acting as Cheerleaders for Obama in Inaugural Coverage

Ronald Reagan

ronald_reagan_close_up

C-SPAN: President Reagan 1981 Inaugural Address

President Ronald Reagan – First Inaugural Address

Conflict of Visions

Which vision would you follow, Obama’s or Reagan’s?

Presidents of the United States in their Inaugural Addresses to the American people set forth their vision for the country.

In Thomas Sowell’s book, “The   Conflict of Visions,” there are two categories of visions, the unconstrained and the constrained. Those with an unconstrained vision believe in human reason and that important decisions should be made by the whole society and   government bureaucrats and experts. Those with a constrained vision believe in tradition and accumulated wisdom and decisions should be made by   individuals about what immediately concerns them such as their life and property.

President Barack H. Obama’s second Inaugural address illustrates the collectivist’s unconstrained vision while the late President Ronald Reagan first Inaugural address illustrates the   individualist’s constrained vision.

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President Barack H. Obama’s second Inaugural, Jan. 21, 2013         Credit: http://www.latinopost.com

Obama’s unconstrained vision

Collective action

“But 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. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.”

Crisis and a world without boundaries

“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”

Constantly changing government, tax code, schools, and citizens

“We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.”

Our journey

“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.”

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President Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural, Jan. 20, 1981    Credit: http://www.inaugural.senate.gov

Reagan’s constrained vision

Government is the problem

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.” 

Crisis and limits

“These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. ”

“You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today. “

Unemployment, the tax system and deficit spending

“Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.”

“But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.”

Administration’s objective

“Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this ‘new beginning,’ and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.”

Since my political philosophy is libertarianism, I naturally selected Reagan’s constrained vision.

The most famous vision for the future was given by Abraham Lincolns in his second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865 when he said just weeks before his assassination on April 14 and as the Civil War was winding down:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Raymond Thomas Pronk is host of the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 3-5 p.m. Fridays and author of the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com/

Background Articles and Videos

G. Edward Griffin – The Collectivist Conspiracy

6 Collectivism & Individualism   G  Edward Griffin   FMNN eTV   Full Video

G. Edward Griffin- On Individualism v Collectivism #1

G. Edward Griffin- On Individualism v Collectivism #2

G. Edward Griffin- On Individualism v Collectivism #3

G. Edward Griffin- On Individualism v Collectivism #4

G. Edward Griffin: Individualism & Capitalism vs. Collectivism & Monopolies

TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions

Thomas Sowell – Obama Going Forward

Thomas Sowell – Our Intellectual-In-Chief

Uncommon Knowledge with Thomas Sowell

Transcript And Audio: Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address

The remarks of President Obama, as released by The White House and prepared for delivery:

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — 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, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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 have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But 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. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.

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 believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

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. But we 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. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

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. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice — not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — 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.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction — and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/21/169903155/transcript-barack-obamas-second-inaugural-address

Ronald Reagan
naugural Address
January 20, 1981

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O’Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens:

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick—professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “We the people,” this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning,” and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are not heroes, they just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they’re on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They’re individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

Now, I have used the words “they” and “their” in speaking of these heroes. I could say “you” and “your,” because I’m addressing the heroes of whom I speak—you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic “yes.” To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I’ve just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held, as you’ve been told, on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We’re told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.
God bless you, and thank you.


Note: The President spoke at 12 noon from a platform erected at the West Front of the Capitol. Immediately before the address, the oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.

In his opening remarks, the President referred to Rev. Donn D. Moomaw, senior pastor, Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, California.

The address was broadcast live on radio and television.

Obama’s Second Inaugural

By Yuval Levin
“…President Obama’s second inaugural address was an exceptionally coherent and deeply revealing speech. Its cogency was impressive: Recent inaugurals, and especially those of reelected presidents, have inclined toward the laundry list far more than this speech did. Obama made an argument, and one that holds together and advances a discernible worldview. It was in that sense a very successful speech, and while it may not be memorable in the sense of containing lines so eloquent or striking that they will always be associated with this moment and this president, it is a speech that will repay future re-reading because it lays out an important strand of American political thought rather clearly.But because it does so, it is also revealing of the shallowness, confusion, and error of that strand of American political thought — that is, of the progressive worldview in our politics.This speech was about as compact yet comprehensive an example of the contemporary progressive vision as we’re likely to get from a politician. It had all the usual elements. Its point of origin was a familiar distorted historical narrative of the founding — half of Jefferson and none of Madison — setting us off on a utopian “journey” in the course of which the founding vision is transformed into its opposite in response to changing circumstances, with life becoming choice, liberty becoming security, and the pursuit of happiness transmuted into a collective effort to guarantee that everyone has choice and security. The ideals of the Declaration of Independence are praised mostly for their flexibility in the face of their own anachronism, as their early embodiment in a political order (that is, the Constitution) proves inadequate to a changing world and must be gradually but thoroughly replaced by an open-ended commitment to meeting social objectives through state action.The only alternative to state action, in this vision of things, is the preposterously insufficient prospect of individual action. “For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias,” the president said.

No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

The individual acting alone or the entire nation acting through its government, those are the only options we have. The space between the individual and the state is understood to be empty at best, and at worst to be filled with dreadful vestiges of intolerance and backwardness that must be cleared out to enable the pursuit of justice.

Our history is more or less a tale of an increasing public awareness of these facts. As we grew to understand that only common public action would suffice in an ever-changing world:

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

That modern economy and that free market are simply constants to be taken for granted — they will keep on humming, the only question is whether they will be placed under any restraints or direction. “Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character,” the president said, so we need not worry about how to sustain them but only about how to contain them.

And as we grew to understand the virtues of such common efforts of containment and direction of the modern economy, we also advanced the struggle against those vestiges of backwardness that have raised obstacles to inclusion, scoring victories for justice in “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.” Never mind the 50 million human beings deemed insignificant because they were unwanted and snuffed out over the last four decades in the cause of choice. Indeed, the freedom to remorselessly exterminate these innocents, rather than the struggle to protect the life and dignity of the weak who dared by their existence and their neediness to disrupt the plans of the strong, is somehow given a place of honor in the register of social progress.

Having been delivered along the arc of that progress to this point, we should have a pretty good idea of what we ought to do next: the same thing but more so. After all, the logic of the narrative carries its own direction — toward a series of utopian if sometimes nonetheless remarkably trivial near-term goals (“our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote”) and a longer-term ideal of permanent universal political activism striving for an ever-more-perfect balance of moral individualism and economic collectivism.

As it is both moved by a hunger for justice and embodied in the American story (as its champions understand it), this course is taken to plainly occupy the moral high ground, and opposition to it can really only be explained by bad faith, bad motives, or bad reasoning. Thus, even as the advocates of this way of thinking style themselves pragmatists, they deem their opponents worse than wicked.

The president probably didn’t even quite see that his second inaugural was almost certainly the most partisan inaugural address in American history — more partisan than one delivered on the brink of civil war, or in the midst of it, or after the most poisonous and bitterly contested election in our history. He accused his political opponents of rabid (even stupid) radical individualism, of desiring to throw the elderly and the poor onto the street, of wanting to leave the parents of disabled children with no options, of believing that freedom should be reserved for the lucky and happiness for the few, and of putting dogma and party above country. Because it has exceedingly high expectations of politics, this view treats the failure to achieve its own goals as evidence of misconduct by others and of the inadequacy of the system we have. As White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer put it to the Washington Post this week, “There’s a moment of opportunity now that’s important. What’s frustrating is that we don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity.”

The first thing to say about this vision is that it is a serious set of ideas and in some important respects an appealing one. It seeks to put American politics on a modern idealistic foundation rather than the modern skeptical foundation on which our constitutional order has put it, and it understands the liberal society as a set of utopian objectives grounded in a set of rational ideals. That’s certainly one way to understand the liberal society, and it is a way with deep roots in American thought. I’ve always thought that describing the progressive worldview as some kind of German implant undersells it and distorts it. It is surely that in part, but it is also the working out of a strain of American liberalism that has been with us from the beginning. The progressives claim to a connection to Jefferson is not unfounded. But it is incomplete and ill-informed.

The progressives used to know this. Herbert Croly understood that his claim to be applying to economic power the logic of the limits and restraints that Jefferson applied to political power was at least a little preposterous. He was not wrong to say that Jeffersonianism is in some tension with the Constitution — Jefferson surely thought so himself. But he was wrong to say that it pointed toward the sort of philosophical collectivism that the modern left is after. He was using a version of American history to make his case for change more palatable. But today’s progressives simply believe their own history and their own self-portrait. They really believe that the case for equality, for greater inclusion and civil rights, and for some protection from risk in the face of our tumultuous economy can only be grounded in the progressive worldview. Indeed, they take that view to be pragmatic common sense in light of a changing world, rather than a utopian ideology, and they therefore don’t grasp the radical inadequacy of the vision they’re espousing.

By espousing that vision more clearly than usual, the president’s speech revealed that inadequacy. It did so first and foremost by showing that (quite ironically, given how it praises itself for keeping up with change) progressivism today is highly anachronistic. As David Brooks astutely noted today:

The Progressive Era, New Deal and Great Society laws were enacted when America was still a young and growing nation. They were enacted in a nation that was vibrant, raw, underinstitutionalized and needed taming.

We are no longer that nation. We are now a mature nation with an aging population. Far from being underinstitutionalized, we are bogged down with a bloated political system, a tangled tax code, a byzantine legal code and a crushing debt.

In fact, in my opinion the lumbering and bogged-down character of our economy is the chief threat to the very economic security (not to mention prosperity) that the progressives say they are after. But Obama’s speech expressed no grasp of our current situation.

It is for that reason that he relied so heavily on straw men and absurd caricatures of his opponents’ positions. At one point, almost despite himself, the president stumbled upon the kind of thinking those opponents now actually offer, though he quickly picked himself up and continued to march in the opposite direction. In the middle of a case about how inequality calls for common action, he said:

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

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. But we 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.

This is roughly the case for Paul Ryan’s budget. But the president opposes that approach, and in making this argument he pointed to some obvious objections to the rest of his speech without answering them. What programs are so inadequate that he is willing to see them reformed? Where is he willing to change the means to continue achieving the ends? What hard choices does he have in mind to reduce the deficit and the cost of health care? What does it mean to “reject the belief” that we are forced into a choice between the young and the old when we have massive government programs that compel exactly that choice and yet the president refuses to change them?

In fact, it is precisely the vision laid out in the rest of the president’s speech that has brought us to this difficult moment. Our foremost domestic challenges now almost all have to do with mitigating the enormous damage done to our economic dynamism, our social fabric, and our fiscal prospects by the public exertions most directly attributable to the sort of progressivism Obama laid out. This generation and the next one (at least) will spend their political energies trying to pick up the pieces of the Great Society and to construct alternatives to its foremost achievements that are better suited to the kind of country we are and want to be. And today’s progressives are very poorly suited to that task, because they do not see the problem, and they have a rather peculiar notion of the kind of country we are and want to be.

For conservatives to do better, it would be helpful to understand the left’s failings, and this speech is not a bad place to start. Look at the vision it lays out. It denies the relevance of our constitutional system, the value of civil society, the social achievement that is our culture of individual initiative and economic dynamism, the dignity of every life whether wanted by others or not, and the unsustainability of the liberal welfare state.

A coherent alternative would need to answer each of these errors and to put forward a political vision and program that champions the constitutional system and its underlying worldview, lifts up civil society as a key source of our strength, sustains the moral preconditions for democratic capitalism, protects every life, and transforms the institutions of the liberal welfare state into a robust safety net that guards the vulnerable and gives everyone a chance to benefit from and participate in our dynamic economy rather than shielding them from it. It is not hard to imagine such a combination of ideas because that combination, in its various forms, is what American conservatism stands for. It probably wouldn’t hurt to let the voting public know that. …”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/338366/obama-s-second-inaugural-yuval-levin#

Morning Bell: Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, Translated

Amy Payne

“…Members of Congress—who are about to debate raising the debt ceiling tomorrow—should have paid attention yesterday. The President was very clear that he sees no urgency about reducing the debt and cutting the deficit. In fact, in his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama was honest about his intentions to grow government in order to remake our country along his progressive vision.

To sell his agenda, the President borrowed imagery and terminology from America’s first principles. But he twisted the American founding idea of “We the people” into the liberal “It takes a village.”

His rhetoric on the issues only thinly disguised his true meaning. Let’s translate some of his key points.

Obama on “we the people”: “For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future. Or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.”

Translation: In case you didn’t hear me the first time, you didn’t build that.

He may have surrounded these words with lip service to the Constitution and America’s promise of freedom, but the President revisited his core message here: It takes a taxpayer-subsidized village to build things. According to his philosophy, entrepreneurs don’t create jobs—the government does.

Obama on the fiscal crisis: “We, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it….We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we 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.”

Translation: I will continue to push for more tax increases instead of reforming Medicare and Social Security.

On this point, the President followed up his promise that he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling by digging in his heels on taxes and entitlement programs. The “hard choices” he refers to on health care and the deficit are more tax increases—because he “reject[s] the belief” that entitlements must be reformed if they are going to stay around for the next generation.

The debt limit showdown continues this week: The House will vote tomorrow on a plan that would extend the debt ceiling for three months while forcing Congress—specifically, the Senate—to pass a budget. If they do not pass a budget by April 15 under this plan, Members of Congress would stop getting paid. If House Republicans so much as blink, the President and his allies will steamroll them.

Obama on green energy: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition.”

Translation: I will continue to increase regulations on the energy sources we use and throw taxpayer money into “green” energy companies.

Despite the ever-growing Green Graveyard of companies like Solyndra that took taxpayer money only to go bankrupt, the President clings to this unworkable and expensive policy. And his linking of climate change to “more powerful storms” points to a renewed push for policies like a carbon tax to punish people for using energy—a policy that would harm the economy and produce no tangible environmental benefits.

Obama on foreign policy: “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war….We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”

Translation: The terrorists are on the run, and I still think we can negotiate with nuclear bullies like Iran.

Even as Obama pulls troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the hostage crisis in Algeria shows that al-Qaeda is alive and well. Though Iran continues to rebuff international inspectors and basically do whatever it wants, Obama seems perpetually optimistic that more talks with this hostile regime—and others like it—could make them change their behavior.

The President said yesterday that “fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges.” Though the plans he laid out are not new, they definitely require a response if we are to preserve the founding principles we cherish, including our individual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Congress has been warned, and by the President no less, that he is in no mood to compromise. If they give in, a liberal agenda like we’ve never known before will be implemented, while needed reforms to our entitlement programs will not take place. Holding the line is more important now than ever. …”

http://blog.heritage.org/2013/01/22/obama-second-inaugural-address-translated/

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