23 Jan 2001
I’m not quite on my toes with timeliness, because this would have been better to post a couple of days ago, but I now present my personal inaugural speech that I’m keeping on file in case it becomes neccesary. Included for your edification are notes indicating the various rhetorical strategies each segment is intended to address.
Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, and my fellow Americans:
On behalf of our nation, I humbly salute my predecessor for his years of service to America. Today, as President Bush leaves office, the United States owes him a debt of gratitude.
The change of administration we witness today marks not just a transfer of political authority, but a renewal of the democratic sanction under which it occurs, an affirmation of our common belief in a system of government that is ultimately answerable solely to the people. [rehearsal of shared values]
It is also testimony to a political experiment in self-rule and individual freedom that?when it began in this nation more than two centuries ago?most of the world saw as outrageous and foolhardy, but one whose enduring vigor and simple good sense is testified to by our presence here today. [place us in/link us to history]
As part of this democratic tradition, we have also just completed an election campaign that saw differing political views aired and argued?sometimes dispassionately, sometimes not so dispassionately?all across the nation. This sort of temporary division and robust disagreement is as it should be in a democracy. [rehearsal of shared values]
But now that the election is concluded we meet here today to say?as President Jefferson taught us to say long ago?that we are all Democrats and all Republicans, that today our only resolve is to put the public interest above that of any party or faction. [inclusive/unifying]
After the storm of the campaign, the transfer of authority from one President to another happens in relative calm; so much so, that we run the risk of taking this special moment for granted. We must not. Our form of government only endures because Americans will its continued existence. So, as we meet in this spirit of unity, we pledge?as one people and one nation?to put aside personal and political differences and get on speedily and vigorously with the people’s business. [inclusive/unifying]
Though other Presidents lived in much different times, faced different challenges, and spoke in their own way on their Inaugural days, many things are unchanged.
I share the sense of dedication that other new Presidents must have felt. Like them, I understand that I am responsible to all the people of America. I share the excitement of those who have come to this job before me, their sense of purpose, and their eagerness to get on with the task ahead. I share my predecessors? feelings of humility. I share the energy of one newly scrutinized by America. During the campaign, I sought to let people know what was in my heart by speaking plainly and simply about my vision for our nation?s future. It was that philosophy, and that vision, which were endorsed in November.
I will govern neither from the right nor from the left, but from the center, propelled not by ideology, but by common sense that seeks better results for all of us. It matters not whether an idea comes from a Republican or a Democrat. What matters is whether that idea is right or wrong – and whether it will work! [broad overview of principals of administration]
I pledge to you an administration that is at once tough-minded and big-hearted. We will restore a sense of decency and compassion to government. And we will reward merit and insist upon accountability. [broad overview of principals of administration] Building on the profound sacrifices and accomplishments of our parents, grandparents and all those who came before us, we will revive the sense of unlimited possibility and common purpose that once made America the envy of the world. [link us to history]
As I take office on your behalf, I offer this promise now: I will do my part. [enactment of leadership] I will be responsible with your tax dollars, passionate about education, dedicated to economic growth, and committed to the environment. [broad overview of objectives of administration]
But you must do your part. There is no substitute for the collective action of inspired citizens. If we are to claim our destiny, personal engagement is not an option – it is an imperative. [inclusive/unifying] Every citizen must make his contribution in order to ensure, as George Washington said, ?the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves.?
America, I know you. You?re ready for government that works, rather than a decerebrate machine. You?re ready for real solutions to real problems, rather than ?politics as usual.? You believe that government should not serve the special interests but the public interest, not those in office but those who place them in office. Most of all, you desire for yourselves and coming generations the liberty to dare, to risk, and to succeed.
This is our mission. It is clear and bold. It is within the power of all of us, working together, to build a bright future. I ask for your help, your commitment, and your prayers for the work ahead. I feel the wind at our backs. My enthusiasm for our mission is exceeded only by my confidence that we can succeed. And when we do, those who feel left behind will have new hope, those who have grown cynical will begin to care, and our children will grow up in a more prosperous and more peaceful nation.
So today I issue this call: Choose not indifference and mistrust; choose hope, commitment and renewal. [inclusive/unifying]
The history of our special land tells us this: that what Americans can dream, Americans can do. To be your President is an unimaginable honor. Thank you for your confidence in me, and God bless America.