A hypothetical Second Inaugural Address for President Obama in the Spirit of Lincoln and King. Let us learn to live together as brother and sister citizens rather than rushing to perish together as fools.
This second inauguration requires no lengthy address. The proper course of action is clear for all willing to see. During a protracted struggle, the politics of the Republic strained and almost stalled on every point and phase of the people’s business. Our institutions and our capacity to put principle and purpose above partisan ideology were tested. Now it is time to summon goodwill and do the work we have before us. We hold offices in trust for our compatriots. We must express the aspirations and engage the energies of the citizenry. Little of benefit can be achieved, if we care more about besting one another than about pursuing progress and prosperity for all Americans. This progress and prosperity depends on our finding solutions rather than fixing blame. We must not contrive recurrent crises. We all know this. Let us trust reasonably and act resolutely. With high hopes for the future, let us commit to solve the problems and enhance the prospects before us.
Four years ago we anxiously considered an imploding economy and the hazards of two ongoing wars. All dreaded the economic catastrophe; all proposed measures to ameliorate it. After the inauguration, urgent messages circulated seeking to deny the outcome of the election and ensure this presidency would not succeed. Our unity was divided by disciplined and intransigent opposition. Both parties spoke of cooperation, but one of them would reflexively oppose rather than govern cooperatively, and the other endured this obstruction rather than let governance wither and sink into impotence.
One-twelfth of the population is unemployed. Wealth and income are unequally distributed. The unemployed are a poignant portion of our nation. Minds are terrible things to waste and economic hardship for many deprives the nation of sorely needed talents and energy. The unemployed are a great untapped resource for renewed and vibrant progress toward a more perfect Union. While the government cannot solve every problem by itself, neither can it be denied the right nor shirk the responsibility to do more to relieve the economic distress of so many of our compatriots and reverse the long drift toward a nation separated and imperiled by chasms of inequality of wealth, income, and opportunity. Neither party appreciated the magnitude of the economic collapse nor the duration of the doldrums which gripped the nation. Neither acknowledged that the effects of collapse would persist so long after corrections were implemented. Each eschewed actions aimed at more fundamental results while arguing about whom to blame. Both swear the same oaths. Both serve the same Republic. Both invoke the Constitution’s principles against the other. It may seem strange that any should dare to invoke those noble principles while attacking the government it ordains and empowers, but let us concede their good faith as they concede ours. The principles of the Constitution serve to both describe and support our government. The Constitution stipulates six purposes and none are yet fully achieved.
Therefore, “We are here in a general sense because first and foremost we are American citizens, and we are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its meaning. We are here also because of our love for democracy, because of our deep-seated belief that democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.” America is a great saga and it proceeds with the help of providence. We each bear a responsibility to do right as we understand it and to keep faith with all who have so nobly advanced the Republic’s hallowed purposes. Now is our time. The scourge of economic stagnation and the burden of global responsibilities are ours to bear. Human beings created these problems, and human actions can resolve them. We fervently wish these vexing issues would pass quickly, but if they persist, let it be said “We rose up together with a great readiness. We stood together with a great determination. We moved on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We took the opportunity to make America a better nation… we really stood up for the best in the American dream, and took the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”
Let us lead the land we love with hostility toward none, and goodwill for all. With a firm commitment to do the right as we see it, let us “bind up the nation’s wounds” and care for our wounded warriors, their families and the families of the fallen. Finally, let us tirelessly seek “a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations of the earth.”