Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Extract from Pres Obama's Inaugural Address

"On This Day…..

My fellow citizens, I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed.

(My predecessors) have spoken these words during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. (But) every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, (we) have carried on not simply because the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We, the People have remained faithful to (our) ideals.

That we are in the midst of a crisis is now well understood. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today, I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim the end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation; the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking (our country). For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay the foundation for growth. We will build roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun, and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programmes will end.

And those of us who manage the (public pound) will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every (one of us), that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Obama Localised: An Open Letter to Scottish Decision Makers

Dear colleague,

As you prepare to take decisions on how we shall meet the challenges of our troubled times, and perhaps find both new meaning and the affirmation of old values in the works of Burns, it may be helpful to take added inspiration from another source. As we watch events unfolding across the pond, it is surely insightful to reflect upon the extract from President Obama’s inaugural address.

Please read it from your own political perspective. Whether your politics are of a nationalist or unionist hue, these words will surely resonate. If your politics are green, or red or blue, you will find meaning in these messages. You may also choose to insert other extracts, for example his phrases on patriotism, or substituting “
Scotland” or the “UK” for “America”, or words proclaiming one’s faith, to further strengthen the impact.

Regardless of the setting, whether these words are heard by millions standing in front of the Capitol, or by the public gallery in Holyrood or in any one of our council chambers across the country, their meaning, their sense of purpose and direction ring true. From our perspective at the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, these words relate directly to our core policy programmes on Public Service Reform, renewing Democracy and Energy & Environment.

However you choose to read these words, they reflect our common values, our shared sense of direction, our appreciation that those things which bind us together are indeed much stronger than those which seek to force us apart. At this time, as you prepare to debate and then decide what path we shall all take to tackle the challenges that we face, consider how this extract would be received in your chamber!

Yours sincerely,

Ross Martin
CSPP Policy Director