Monday, January 21, 2013

Second Term Inauguration Speech

The most lasting and core impression I get from a strong Liberal - even campaign style - President Obama Inauguration speech is the admirable way in which he shook the burden of history and presented 'here and now' case of Liberalism. I like that an American President throws away the expectations of Punditry and pressure to produce something comparable and worthy of Lincoln's Second Inauguration Speech but instead goes straight in pulling 'kicking and screaming' America to the 21st century.

Around 3 presidential terms back 21st century started. But America is still stuck in G. W. Bush's 'Pax Americana' when rivaling Soviet Union was dismantled, united Germany was busy tending her own house, China was still Deng Xioping's work in progress, when American Air force alone would destroy Iraq size Armies in days and India did not even have enough Rupees in number compared to how many Dollars were in circulation in the mighty American Economy (leave aside Rupee to Dollar skewed ratio). That has been the 'indispensable nation' and 'shining city on hill' of Sarah Palin taste.

But then we Americans have paid the dear price of Greenspan hubris, DotCom Boom and Bust, avoidable Iraq War, unfunded Tax Cuts and collapse of our Economy in 2008. All of that, still has not brought USA in the realities of 21st Century where forget about 'our indispensability', it is the question of whether we are ready to pay our bills for what we already spent! Americans, and GOP especially, are still in some different world where they do not understand that America will have to go back to its root of collective hard work in partnership with State, collective sacrifices, be open to immigrants and heed to the message of equality to all to earn the respectable position back in the Parthenon of Nations.

That is what I believe President Obama's speech attempted. (Was that the only way to achieve? Could it have been any different form? Possibly, but this is what our President has delivered for now.) Which inauguration speech would mention words like Engineers, Research Labs and Climate Change? Agreed, words like Social Security and Medicare do not belong to an inauguration speech where the canvas is vast, vision is at least at minimum of 4 years and Presidents are essentially in dialogue with Past Masters and Almighty. Mundane words of entitlements are more easily found in State of Union Addresses. But then that is the whole point of President Obama's speech - let us not get burdened by our History, weight of literary flourishes about 'national unity expectations' or false songs of bi-partisan Kumbya moments; but without any pretense undertake what it takes to move us in the 21st Century. In a sense I found the speech lot more 'future looking' (in addition to solid elucidation of LGBT Movement's historic achievements) than worried about fitting into some 'orthodox formula'. False concerns about disintegration of families, or premature worries about debt load when it comes to investments for future, or empty bravado about projections of American power to corners of globe, or complete rejection of what Science is screaming about; none of this has any place in 21st Century. That is what President Obama's speech implied.

Politically the speech would not ease things with Republicans, though his Base will be warmed up and even ready for compromises so long as, as President himself repeated many times, the progress is achieved in some form if not perfectly. But by hitting the theme of 'partnering with citizenry', he made it very clear that Public Pressure will be continued on those political forces which are not ready for sensible changes. Now, that is Positive Politics of 21st Century - keep engaged all the time (needless to say digitally) with your subjects to keep driving changes we desperately need in this country.

Update - David Brooks wants our President to talk about Menlo Park and Silicon Valley, that is nice and it will be wonderful. But having lived all my American life in Silicon Valley over a decade, I get elated when our leaders talk about 'engineers'; I guess that is the difference between a Liberal and a traditional Conservative. 

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