America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?)

Here is an excerpt from a draft of President-Elect Obama’s inaugural speech, showing that vision and eloquence which have brought him to the highest office at such a relatively young age.

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective.

We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife. With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.

Or maybe not.  Whose words are these?

Whose words are these?

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If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective.

We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife. With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.

Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations. It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us.

But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure. I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis — broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

Yes, this is FDR’s First Inaugural Address.  Like him or not, this man knew how to give a speech — with few glittering generalities.  And he delivered what he promised, with respect to action.

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic: about the Financial crisis – what’s happening? how will this end? about the End of the post-WWII geopolitical regime about America – how can we reform it? some Good News about America! Posts about President-Elect Obama

1.  What do blogs do for America?, 26 February 2008 — As our problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern.

2.  A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012, 1 March 2008 — What is next in Iraq?  None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future.  McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ).  On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…

3.  Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay, 3 March 2008 — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them.

4.  How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.

5.  American history changes direction as the baton passes between our political parties, 18 May 2008 – Importance of the November 2008 political landslide.

6.  President Obama, an Muslim apostate?, 2 June 2008 — Nope.

7.  Is Obama running for the office of Chief Shaman?, 6 June 2008 — Weirdness from our next President.

8.  Does America need a charismatic President?, 15 July 2008

9.  More about charisma, by Don Vandergriff…(#2 in the “getting ready for Obama” series), 16 July 2008 — About charisma:  know it before you buy it!

10.  Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008 — At what point does criticism of Obama’s charisma and rhetoric become criticism of leadership itself — and blind faith in technocratic solutions so loved by policy nerds?  Michael Knox Beran crosses that line in “Obama, Shaman“, City Journal, Summer 2008.

11.  Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008 — Obama’s statement about America may be the simple truth; this may be why so many find it disturbing.

12.  These days all American Presidents are War Presidents (part 2), 13 September 2008

13.  Biden’s gaffes are a threat to American’s complacency!, 13 September 2008

14.  The evil of socialism approaches!, 22 October 2008 — Economic crisis … a leftist radical President … Can socialism be avoided, or is it our destined fate?


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Originally published on November 14, 2008 at Fabius Maximus and reproduced here with the author’s permission.