Years ago, H. L. Mencken exposed the fact that Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, used poetry as opposed to logic to reinvent these united States of America into a National Union from a Confederated Union. Lincoln, by the poetry as expressed in the Gettysburg hijacked these united States vision of itself and largely reinvented the country with that speech. As stated earlier, H.L. Mencken pointed this out in his own illimitable way,
“The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history…the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”
The reason I bring this up is I believe that Barack Obama was trying to do much the same thing in his 2013 Inauguration speech.
First, Obama has always tried to channel Lincoln. In point of fact Obama used Lincoln’s Bible (along with MLK’s) to take his oath of office. Could this be a indicator that Obama understands what Lincoln accomplished in changing America via his Gettysburg Address, and so aspired to do the same with his Inaugural address?
Second in his Inauguration Obama made more then one reference to the ability of America to reinvent itself. Early on in the Inaugural address Obama said,
“America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: …. an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.”
Even earlier in his address Obama even refers how the Nation re-made itself in the context of the Lincoln Regime,
“Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.”
Elsewhere we find,
“But we have always understood that when times change, so must we;”
When you combine these quotes it is clear that Obama’s intent is to remake America and my premise is that this Inauguration Address was to Obama what the Gettysberg was to Lincoln in the sense that both speeches, by way of poetry, glommed on to some honored American idea, only to twist it by poetry in a direction that contradicted the original intent of the Founders. For Lincoln, his appeal was to the the American time honored notion of self-determination in order to justify denying the South the opportunity of self-determination. Lincoln, by poetry, was able to justify his crushing of the South in the name of self-determination. Lincoln’s poetry, coloring his brutal use of the sword and the canon, remade the Nation and set it on a different trajectory from which it would never recover.
What Obama is appealing to, by way of poetry, is a twisted idea of equality in order to overturn liberty. In his Inaugural speech Obama returned to the theme of equality over and over again.
… ” what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher …”
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well….”
Obama’s constant appeal to the traditional American virtue of equality is being used to set the nation on a new trajectory that will overturn the original understanding of equality. It is obvious that the Founders did not believe in the kind of Jacobin equality for which Obama champions. Just the fact that the Founders allowed the individual states to determine who would have the franchise proves that they were not interested in the kind of Marxist equality for which Obama is advocating. The fact that the Founders crafted a document of negative rights where the Federal Government was restricted to very specific enumerated and delegated powers — powers that did not include forcing equality on the population and did allow the people to maintain their cherished liberty — suggest that the Founders “equality” is not the “equality” to which Obama constantly returned.
In Obama’s America, the phrase in the Declaration of Independence that mentions that “all men are created equal, is being used as a talisman in order to reinterpret America. The problem is that the US War for American Independence was not posited on the same premises of the French Revolution where equality as Egalitarianism was the leitmotif. America did not have the watch word of “Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity.” America did not mention “Equality” in her primary document (Constitution), or her Bill of Rights. America was not hung up about addressing everyone as “Citoyen,” (Citizen) in order to reveal a mad allegiance to equality as we find in the French Revolution was. America did not come up with a “Declaration of the Rights of Men,” and enshrine “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights” in its first point. America’s concern was Liberty not equality.
In the twentieth century, scholars like Hayek and Friedman maintain that equality is in conflict with and incompatible with liberty. They maintained that speaking of social justice in a society where individuals are free, any attempt to establish social justice or equality will deprive the people of their freedom because such an attempt requires government intervention to the end of denying liberty in pursuit of equality. A true notion of liberty understands that it includes the liberty to be different, and so unequal, due to the pursuit of individual interests. Obama’s version of “Equality” stands in contradiction to any vision of “Liberty” that isn’t Jacobin at its core. Obama’s equality is a demand for equality of outcome that always achieves a dull, ugly, drab sameness and the only way that can be achieved is by Obama taking away the liberty of American People.
Obama, in his Inauguration Speech is trying to deceptively change America much like Lincoln did at Gettysburg. If Obama is able to foist his vision of equality on America, by sentimentally appealing to the historic American notion of equality, he will succeed in changing the USA into the USSA.