INAUGURATION DAY 2009: The Positive Power of Ideas


By Jim Ross Meskimen

I have to say that I was very impressed by the spectacle and intention of the Barack Obama presidential inaugural address. It seemed to me to be indeed a special and a memorable occasion, for a number of reasons.

The singular event of the inauguration of the first African-American president is of course without precedent, and an undeniably positive sign of change, one that many Americans rightly see as a signal of forward advance and improvement.

In some ways, however, that is truly just a “skin deep” issue.

The larger message, to me anyway, was his call for more rationality and responsibility to heal our nation, and his invitation to all Americans to participate, no matter how daunting the task before us. That has significance for people of every color; it is a spiritual message.

The mere fact of an elected leader delivering a convincing communication that stressed responsibility and openness so contrasts with the prior disingenuous stance of President Bush, that it was as night to day. The mere fact that he delivered that marvelously crafted prose c
orrectly, without stumbling, and with the easy style of a speaker who not only knew of what he spoke but was familiar enough with the concepts to be comfortable conveying them to the largest crowd of people one might ever see outside of a NASCAR race, was again a remarkable and welcome change.

At last, a president one can listen to without wincing.

So, to me the inaugural address was a challenge to Obama that was met, in that it expressed views that mirrored the sentiments of a majority of Americans who were ready to be spoken for by a new leader; that we are tired of being known as an uncompromising and warlike people, tired of ignoring the obvious weaknesses in our system, and tired of being led around and treated shabbily by an uncaring administration.

This was an enormous challenge for the new president to fulfill, and he did it with graciousness and ease.

It is too soon to judge whether or not Barack Obama will actually have the backbone and the strength of character to back up his words with the rational actions that will be demanded, or whether he will become overwhelmed by the myriad commitments and political connections that must have played an important role in getting him into this lofty position.

Indeed, already there are troubling alliances that he enters his first term with. Most disturbing is his sponsorship of The Mother’s Act, which mandates psychiatric evaluation of all pregnant women, which of course makes wholesale drugging of the next generation a fait accompli.

But that not withstanding, I came away with the welcome sensation that here, at least, was a man who understands enough about language, goals and ideas to possibly bring about some wide positive change for the better, or lacking that, might at least have the good sense to stand aside and let others do what must be done to create a country we can all prosper in.

There is, at least, someone HOME in the White House.

May he maintain his rationality, his balance and his sense of history.

And may we all find it within ourselves to stand every day for freedom with as much dignity and perseverance as the example set by Barack Hussein Obama on this day.

Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 8:16 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well said, Jim!

    The contrast in attitude and demeanor between President Obama and his predecessor is truly remarkable. Let us hope that the feelings of goodwill towards this man will carry us through the coming months and fuel the kind of cooperation in Washington that this country rarely sees and desperately needs. May civility and intellect once again rule over posturing and pandering.

  2. Jim;
    Thank you for a thoughtful piece. I agree with you that the fact that American society has elected a mixed race Chief Executive speaks volumes to our progress toward judging people primarily by the merit of their individual virtues. I also am tapped into the RELIEF of the end of the WINCING evoked by President Bush’s “speeches”. However, I came away from Mr. Obama’s inauguration with a very different emotional response than you did.

    Based upon Mr Obama’s stated ideas about the role and purpose of government in general, and his intended efforts to increase the role and control of the federal government (by threat of physical force) over the lives of the citizens of the US, and the world, I believe that we are in for some severe changes, and many dire consequences as a result of them. I predict that the forced drugging of the young in this country is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Please allow me to remind you that the United States’ essential founding principle is that: individual people have certain natural rights. In recognizing this fact of reality, a just government should serve only to protect each individual’s right to live their life as they see fit. Free. Free from coercion, force or fraud from OTHER people or groups of people. Any government, in the Founders view, that served ANY OTHER PURPOSE, would be UNJUST, because it would be by definition, imposing on the rights of the individual. A government that operates on the principle that it shall serve the “rights” of a King, a god, a ‘class’, a group, a majority, a race, a ‘Society’ … or any thing other than: the natural rights of each individual human in it’s jurisdiction- is unjust.

    The founders of the United States understood this, and attempted to form a government “most likely” to secure these rights. They formed a REPUBLIC. A confederation of States under a federal union to ensure that the rights of the citizens were defended from FOREIGN powers. That belonging to the union meant that a State must remain independent, yet “promise” to defend certain individual rights (including the Bill of Rights) of their own citizens. The US Constitution was constructed to maintain a defense of individual rights, and to RESTRICT the federal government from become a “central planner” to the States and to the people. It is the Executive brach that manages the affairs of the federal government, NOT the “economy”, not the religious practices, or the sex habits of the people living in the US. The President is in charge of the affairs of the Executive Branch. Not the affairs of John Cocca or Jim Meskimen.

    President Obama took an oath (nearly the oath that was SUPPOSED to be taken: it was changed slightly, without notice) … ” to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. And so, his primary task is to serve that end. BUT…when he advocated in his address taking action to increasingly centrally manage (via the federal government) the personal and economic affairs of the private individuals living in this country; he advocated breaking the very oath he took only moments before.

    Unlike Bush, Obama understands the importance of principles as such. I must believe that he understands the consequences of adopting fully the Collectivist principles he is espousing. Unfortunately, he will likely succeed in implementing them. I disagree with the notion that a government can or should manage society. There are sooo many examples of this attempt: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the adoption of the US Federal Reserve, Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, Soviet Russia (probably the most consistent adherence to collectivist principles, and as a result the most disastrous to it’s people). I advocate the idea that the essential role of government should be an organized implementation of a defense of our individual rights. Each person should expect to be free, and allow his fellows to enjoy that same freedom: to define our own values, find our own purpose, follow our own path toward that purpose, formulate our own ideas, and keep and enjoy the fruits of our actions…. unimpeded by our fellow citizens… and especially unimpeded by the government appointed to protect our rights.

    Mr. Obama should be trying to re-discover the US Constitution and it’s founding principles… instead of trying to re-define them with a collectivist dialect. I could not be more terrified than I am for the future of the (former, thanks to Wilson, FDR, Nixon, and both BUSHES) United States of America, the world, and the individual Man (which we all are).



  3. Hi Jim,

    Despite all the inspiring talk, being pro-Mother’s Act and printing all that funny money is a very bad sign in my view.

    Best regards,

    • Too true. I was writing, back in January, about the words, the ideas being shared, not the man. One can hope there will be actions and dedication behind the words, but at least I admired the ideas and the moment of their expression.
      I don’t have hope for political solutions so long as criminals and the insane can subvert true political will- my money is on the bright, courageous individuals who themselves seek to embody the attributes they believe in, and practice them.

  4. Hey Jim,
    I was lucky enough to have been able to attend the inauguration. Mr. Obama was impressive, and equally impressive were the Americans in attendance. Two million people turned out that day to witness the Oath of Office and to hear what Barack Obama had to say that very cold morning.

    There were no arrests that day. There were no “police incidents”. There was a wonderful feeling of camaraderie amongst people in the crowd. We felt brought together as a people and healed as Americans.

    I look forward to the next hundred days and those to follow.


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