President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech is fascinating, as it presents his strategies, tactics, and new political line. Let’s look at it closely.
Obama begins with a very clever bit of hypocrisy:
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.
So here is Obama saying that the essential basis of American democracy is the Constitution, American exceptionalism, and the Declaration of Independence’s claim of unalienable rights granted to the citizen.
Yet he is on record repeatedly rejecting each of these three ideas.
According to him, the Constitution is flawed for providing only “native liberties” and there is no such thing as American exceptionalism. Also, on several occasions he couldn’t even get the quotation from the Declaration right.
Now he is smarter. He doesn’t say these things are outdated or wrong, but rather that he is going to implement them properly. This is a bold act of misdirection to soothe criticism and to place on himself the mantle of America’s founding documents, pulling the rug from under his critics and appropriating for himself their arguments and symbols.
Next, Obama presents a new worldview intended to justify what he wants: statism, an imperial presidency, social and economic hegemony for the federal government (and within it, the executive branch), more regulation, and more spending.
How does he make this leap? By making it sound like a walk “to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.” In other words, to implement what Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin now, in 2013, requires doing the exact opposite of what everyone has always thought Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin wanted.
– Rights may be “self-evident, they have never been self-executing.” So who is the guarantor that the people will get those rights? Answer: the federal government.
– America can only succeed if there is a national infrastructure. And as we know from his previous speeches (you didn’t build that!), only the government can build or back the “railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.”
– “A free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.” Yes, but it has always thrived under fewer rules than Obama wants, while it has plummeted with the level of rules and definition of fair play Obama has imposed on it.
– We are skeptical of central authority and know government can’t do everything, so for Americans, “celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.”
Up to this point, Obama wants to sound as if he’s largely reading Mitt Romney’s inaugural address. Then there comes a very big “but.”
Times have changed, and “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 other words, to protect the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and individual rights, we need a bigger government, more taxes, more spending, and more regulation.
Yes, just as the Minutemen of the American Revolution and the soldiers who fought fascism and communism needed all these things, Obama continues (wrapping himself in the flag), so does modern America to fight … well, what exactly? Presumably they are the forces of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and the greedy one percent.
Obama wisely does not specify the targets. That will come later.
While the speech may seem soporific to some and routine to others, it sets out an entirely new road for the United States. Its directions can be described as: turn left, and keep going.
Consider this passage:
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.
Really? And how does that follow? It isn’t as if someone says: “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m going to train all the math and science teachers we’ll need and build the roads and research labs.” There are, after all, other alternatives.