It is now official. Barack Obama has been sworn in for a second term. And he chose the occasion of the traditional inaugural address as a coming out party of who he really is--an unapologetic, dyed-in-the-wool liberal, progressive, socialist...whatever term is in vogue to describe someone far left of center.
A careful analysis of his speech shows that he favors a significant departure from what we have always understood our nation to be.
As many presidents have done before him, Obama cited the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and its self-evident truths that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Except for this president added a caveat, that we must "bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time." Really? How do you bridge "unalienable rights"? What realities of any time should change that?
Later in the speech he notes that "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."
And then another caveat. "But..."
As in, "But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges..."
And then ultimate kicker, "that preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action."
Again, what is it about these times that are any different than any other times--for any government, in any era? Skepticism of central government is a founding premise of this nation. It is when the citizens of a nation place too much trust--and too much power--in a central government, that they find their rights eroded and their nation oppressed. The examples of this are legion.
There are other lines which should raise eyebrows, but won't, particularly among the president's most ardent supporters, the press foremost among them.
"Our purpose endures; a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. This is what this moment requires."
Brings to mind a familiar quote: "From each, according to his abilities, to each, according to his needs." (Karl Marx, 1875)
A promise to "reward effort and determination of every single American" must be paid for by someone else.
The president also weighed in not-so-subtle fashion on the gun control issue.
"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."
The statement is laced both with idealism and ideology. The idealism is that we can "always" keep our children safe from harm--the world will always be fraught with risks. The ideology lies in the extent of the actions the government takes in pursuit of this lofty goal. If in the course of trying to secure such safety, the government takes actions that either erode individual rights or unleashes unintended consequences that are worse, are we really keeping our children safe? Or are we eroding their freedoms?
Presidents and governments cannot and should not strive to reward every single American. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence speaks of the right to the pursuit of Happiness, not the guarantee thereof on the government dime.
This is the rhetoric of a far-left politician, convinced of a mandate derived from a margin of votes he won in large measure because he obscured this aspect of himself. The man grew up being mentored by avowed Marxists, including the people who launched his political career in Illinois. Why are some people so defensive when the president is characterized as a "socialist", when in fact he really is? This speech is proof of it.
What remains to be seen is how Congress, and the American people, will react when the president proceeds to try and "bridge the meaning" of our nation's founding premises through law and executive orders.