Editors Note: While the Leak gave no indication who actually won the Presidential election, it did have the entire text of the Inaugural Address. It is up to us to figure out who delivered it:
Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, honored guests, and my Beloved Fellow Citizens:
On March 4th, 1865, Abraham Lincoln stood on the steps of this very Capitol, resplendent in its newly completed dome, and uttered one of our Nation’s most treasured and soaring oratories.
Lincoln’s was then a country utterly rent by war, it’s final outcome still in doubt. The North had just recently won a series of stirring victories, and General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was a little more than a month away. Still, in his inaugural speech, President Lincoln invoked the everlasting nature of the divine justice of God, and how crucial it was that we, as Americans, must recognize that we are inexorably bound up in His eternal verdicts.
This ought to –and does– give me great hope and enduring surety that our best days are ahead of us.
The greatest President of the Twentieth Century, Ronald Wilson Reagan, was gloriously right in his fondness for quoting Emerson: “America”, Reagan would say, “Is the Land of Tomorrow”.
If Abraham Lincoln could look out across the grotesque battlefields of the Civil War, onto the cruel and disfigured remains of the flower of her youth, and into the eyes of their widows and their children and see a bright and healed nation, then certainly, as Reagan would say, America is truly, the “Land of Tomorrow”.
The America of Lincoln’s day was an America where brother had been pitted against brother, families were torn to ribbons in the passions of the unresolved future, and many of her cities were destroyed. And yet, Lincoln knew, as I know today, that the best days of this nation were down the road a little way, and around the bend. He never wavered in his undying belief that where there is freedom, there too, will rest the favor of God.
For freedom is the earthy expression of the love of God. He grants us the freedom to believe in Him, whether we do or not. And in this Godly matrix of love we find our national purpose, and the undying hope in the tomorrow that Emerson gave lyrics to, and of which Reagan loved to speak.
As Reagan said, “America’s best days are ahead of her”.
We are only now emerging from a darkened and seemingly despondent period in our National story. We’ve been told for the last four years that we must learn to settle for scarcity. We were told we must now settle, and accept as normal, a way of life that a statist and authoritarian government will choose for us. No longer could we expect our children’s lives to be better than our own; we must accept America as a nation in decline, a nation that must necessarily relinquish its superpower status in the world, and become one of many equals; or even less.
Out on the near horizon, it seemed, we no longer saw the best days of America. Rather, we viewed an iron-fisted government that would make critical, deeply personal decisions for us and our families, and ultimately be the final arbiter in the most critical choices in our lives, from what kinds of automobiles we can purchase, to very light bulbs in our homes, to whether or not our loved ones would receive critical medical treatments.
This, we knew instinctively as freeborn citizens, weren’t the clarion calls of our Best Days. They were the outliers of a disquieting, and decidedly un-American future.
And so, it was rejected.
Georges Santayana was a thinker and writer who gained prominence at the beginning of the last century. He was Spanish, but was educated here in America, and he became smitten, after a fashion, with the subtle beauty and humanity of America.
Santayana was famous for proclaiming, “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it”. But, as I say, Santayana was from Europe, and his homelands were known to be engulfed in one war of attrition after another, one petty fiefdom after another bitterly fighting the same wars over and over.
Not so America. Here, in the United States, we are not doomed to the future of a dark and haunted past. In America, we awaken each golden morning, enlivened by the courage of our sires, excited at the prospect of what tomorrow’s tomorrow will bring. Each tomorrow will bring new wonders, new insights, new beauty. The tomorrow we repeat is one animated with the steely courage of the mighty American Armed forces, a tomorrow brightened with the determination of our legal immigrant heritage, a tomorrow nourished by generation upon generation of loving, selfless mothers and fathers, each seeing in their babies eyes a future of indescribable hope, freedom, and liberty.
We begin again, this very day.
As of now, we will wipe away the fogs and gloom of yesterday’s darkening twilight, and watch with glorious hope as we rip from our midst the last, tyrannical shards of government-run health-care schemes. When I descend from this dais, my first official act as President of the United States will be to sign the legislation prepared in advance to do precisely this. And, to all those who are within the sound of my voice, know this simple fact: America today remains free, it’s citizens henceforth and forevermore celebrated as sovereign, divinely-inspired individuals, rather than as case-numbers in a faceless, heartless bureaucracy.
As the days go by in the months and years ahead of us, we will make much more progress to restore the lamp of liberty to its former brightness and splendor. The Tree of Liberty, which heretofore was watered with tears, and blood, will now be nourished with the sweat of freeborn toil.
To those that are engaged in the simple, American task of commerce, we will remove shackle upon shackle that have been scornfully heaped upon you through the years, by countless presidents and congresses. We will do this, quite simply, by removing the plantation overseers in the federal government. Gone will be useless, counterproductive environmental regulations that neither protect the environment, nor increase liberty and productivity. Gone will be the layer upon layer upon layer of Byzantine regulations, dictates, rules, and ordinances.
To those that seek quiet solitude in their studies, or in their theology, or their arts, or in their neighborhoods, know that Washington D.C. is no longer a threat to these things. Washington will again be simply a guarantor of your safety to pursue these things, or what ever else animates, and enriches your life.
To those that have pledged their sacred honor to America in the Armed Forces, we give you here, today, a new and solemn pledge: We view you, your families, and the sacrifice you’ve made on ours, and freedom’s, behalf, as an enduring monument that requires the uttermost best from us here at home. No longer will we stand by while some service members must get food stamps to provide for their families, or our injured warriors must beg, hat in hand, for comforts and sustenance. Once again, the uniform of the United States of America will be the most honored and respected raiment in the world.
To those that worked for government, especially those that have given their working lives in service to their Nation, know that we will not, under any circumstance, merely cast you aside, now that your service has ended. As Americans, we understand the value of each of you, as neighbors, and as friends. We will not forget you, even as America moves into a new and exciting realm of freedom reborn, and liberty restored.
And all of the reclaimed liberty, the mantle of freedom, will be restored to you, our beloved citizens, in the absolute knowledge that each American deserves nothing less, and the healing of our Nation will begin.
To those foes in distant lands, or even those close by our borders, we say this:
America is once again strong, and resilient, grim-faced, carrying a bright sword that it uses only as a final resort. But, know this: We will use it to protect freedom, to advance the American story, if absolutely required. This infinite burden, as John Kennedy so eloquently called it, will henceforth be borne again by us. We bow to no one.
A truly inspiring, uniquely American moment occurred on January 6th, 1961…
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been recognized as the victor of that autumn’s Presidential Election. But, because the results of the balloting of the Electoral College had not been read in the United States Senate, it was not yet official.
As is the manner of the Senate, there was great honor and decorum afforded the event, that cold, blustery January day, now over fifty years ago. The final tally was taken, the votes were read aloud, and John Kennedy was officially declared the 34th President of the United States.
The dark-haired young man who presided over that 80th Senate session moved in his chair and, without notes, without a prepared text, arose and said the following:
“I do not think we could have a more striking and eloquent example of the stability of our constitutional system” he said, “and the proud tradition of the American people of developing, respecting and honoring institutions of self-government. In our campaigns, no matter how hard-fought they may be, no matter how close the election may turn out, those who lose accept the verdict and support those who win. It is in this spirit that I now declare that John F. Kennedy has been elected President of the United States.”
The man who said these words was Richard Nixon. In addition to being the Vice President that day, one of his duties was to preside over the Senate of the United States. He began his remarks by saying: “It is the first time in one-hundred years that a candidate for the presidency of the United States announced the result of an election in which he was defeated.”
And it was true. For those that do not immediately recall this election, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon battled throughout the fall of 1960, and the final balloting results were, until the Election of 2000, the closest in our history: Less than one-tenth of one percent of the total vote separated the victor from the vanquished.
As the victor, John Kennedy spent the first day or two after the election fearing that Richard Nixon would call for a recount. But, he did not, and it fell to Mr. Nixon to announce his rival as the ultimate winner.
As Richard Nixon so persuasively said at the time, there was no more eloquent expression of the strength of our American System of peaceful, orderly transition of governmental power than this simple act.
The stakes were very high in 1961. World-wide communism was on the march throughout the world. Both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Nixon spent much of their electoral energy persuading Americans that they would be the stronger anti-communist than his rival. Less than four years earlier Soviet Russia had launched the first man-made low-earth orbit satellite, called Sputnik. The national economy, which had enjoyed stunning post-war growth through much of the 1950’s, was showing real signs of stress, and unemployment was on the rise. Purchasing power for Americans was declining as inflation stirred again throughout the land. Mr. Nixon knew that throwing the seat of American executive power into turmoil by insisting on a recount not only threatened the ability of America to defend itself in such perilous times, but it threatened the integrity of the sacred American tradition of the peaceful transition of power.
Today, now some 52 years later, we again celebrate that tradition.
America is, in it’s broadest scope, a glorious ongoing ballet. The people, the events, the stage-sets, move flowingly across the breadth of it stage with awe-inspiring choreography. But, the most amazing thing about the American production is that there are no directors, no overseers, no kings. There are just a few written pages, kept under glass a few blocks from where I am standing, that provides our national script. The Constitution is our sheet music. Folks queue up, take on their roles in our American drama, move blazingly for their part, and then voluntarily recede into the wings, allowing the next group, the next generation, to assume the responsibilities.
Most often, these people take to the task at hand of governing with inspired clarity, with their God-given talents, and their own American ethic of wanting to do the job well, to serve their neighbors the best they can, and have the quiet joy of having moved the grand American experiment along a note or two.
The most amazing thing about our American ballet is that it molds the people we choose to lead us, rather than the other way around. Throughout most of world history, the governments that arise do so to serve the selfish needs of a man or two, and the nation is bent to the unyielding will of this single person. Think of Mao’s China, or Stalin’s Russia, or Hirohito’s Japan, or George III’s Britain.
Not so in America. Here in the United States, our system of Constitutionally guaranteed freedom, liberty and conscience creates the leaders. America is where a simple men’s clothing merchant can rise to lead the nation during the closing days of the most ferocious wars mankind has known:
This man was Harry Truman.
America is where the first son of a shoe-salesman in the small-town mid-west can blaze a path of economic glory so bright, it’s glow shines still upon us today.
This man was Ronald Reagan.
America is the place where, a baby born during the flames of racial injustice and the searing heat of the civil rights struggle, a baby of African heritage, can grow to one day climb the steps of cultural justice, to arrive at the very front door of America’s White House. This man is Barack Obama, a man that verily embodies the American dream, a man that I would like each of you to acknowledge now for his service, and for his ongoing work on our behalf…
And so, my beloved fellow Americans, I turn now to the tasks ahead. As I say, I do not shrink from these tasks, knowing that our best days are ahead of us. This is much more than axiomatic: It is the living, breathing sinew of our lives.
If John Winthrop, still anchored in his small boat of Puritans in the waters off the Massachusetts shore, could encourage his colonist that the society they were building would be a “Shining City on a Hill”, then our times are no more arduous. During Winthrop’s day, his new country was a vast and mostly uncharted wilderness, bereft entirely of any comforts, modern or otherwise. Death was a likely traveler, and a life of cold hardship awaited them. But, they knew that America’s best days were ahead of them, so they didn’t shrink from the task.
During the days of the frontier prairie, families would huddle, warmed by a single fire, in a hut made of sod and earth. But, they did not shrink from the toil ahead, because they knew, they knew, that America’s best days were ahead of them. As I said, Lincoln knew that tomorrow would be brighter in America than today, even as the Civil War roiled on. If the folks in the depths of the Great Depression could be salved by the balm of the words of Franklin Roosevelt that the best days of America were ahead of them, if Lincoln knew, if the frontiersmen knew, if Winthrop knew, then certain we can know.
We know that America, in the words of Emerson, is the Land of Tomorrow.
And Tomorrow Starts Today.
Thank you, and it is my enduring hope that God will bless you all, and Bless the Mighty United States of America.