Columbia, SC — Watching President Obama’s second inaugural address left me feeling that it fell flat. But after reading the speech, it became clear to me how historic and Lincolnesque it actually was.
When President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863, he began with “Four score and seven years ago ….” For the quantitatively challenged, that was 1776, coinciding with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln could have referred back to the Constitution (1789) but made a conscious decision to connect his speech to the Declaration.
Obama did the same when he used “We, the people,” “all men are created equal” and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as powerful recurring themes.
As a proud moderate Republican, I profoundly disagree with some of the president’s progressive ideals. Yet there were other points that resonated.
Protecting our children from harm is first and foremost in my mind. If we as a society cannot deliver on that basic moral obligation, then nothing else really matters.
A level playing field for all who work hard is a must, too.
To hear that a decade of war is ending and an economic recovery is beginning made me hopeful. Our brave men and women have served with honor in Afghanistan. It is time to bring them home.
Working in the retail real estate industry, I was proud to see Wal-Mart announce an initiative to hire 100,000 veterans, and I hope other corporations will follow. Hiring these veterans is not only the right thing to do; it’s also good for our economy.
And Congress must be willing to compromise on tough issues in order to get things done. Political parties should be irrelevant when the future of our great nation is at stake.
I ask my fellow citizens to reject the extreme rhetoric from the far right and left, reconcile your principles with common sense, and let’s work together to solve the problems we face. Simpson-Bowles would be a great start to put us on a path to long-term fiscal health, and I call on our congressional delegation and the president to embrace its recommendations.
Obama offered many specifics in his grand speech. It’s up to Republicans to offer reasonable and specific countermeasures and then strike a deal somewhere in between. That is how our Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, intended our democracy to work.
James R. Pagett Jr.