Ben Shapiro on Obama’s ‘Orwellian’ Inaugural Speech
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Throughout most of human history, transfers of power involved the coronation of a king or emperor, who’s only claim to power was either his birth or the conquest of his rival, whose reign was for life, and whose subjects were at his complete mercy.
Two centuries ago, our founders gave us a radically different system, where leaders were chosen from among the people to be public servants who were held accountable by the people, where no man (regardless of position) was above the law, where power was limited to prevent its abuse, where God alone was our King, and where government was prevented from taking that dictatorial role in people’s lives.
It is an awesome privilege to be the beneficiary of such a gift, and yet it carries a heavy responsibility of civic duty to hold our government and public servants accountable when they overstep their legitimate, constitutional authority.
Today was a day of inauguration, not coronation. We respect the results of the election, but we also remember that the constitutional limits of government power and the rule of law that protects our liberties are NEVER up for a vote.
Today, it was not just a president who is being inaugurated, but also We The People, who must shoulder our responsibility to uphold and defend the constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic. May we take that solemn charge faithfully and honorably, as our founders did.
And we start, by recognizing the threats promised by the newly inauguration president against our liberties:
Sounding the same themes of class warfare that propelled his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama devoted his second inaugural address to laying out his second term agenda: a struggle to undo the seeming injustices of America’s past, and to overcome the army of straw men that stand in opposition to progress.
In the process, President Obama attempted nothing less than an assault on the timeless notion of liberty itself:
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
After praising the “collective” and mocking the notion that America is a “nation of takers,” President Obama targeted the political opposition. He targeted those who “deny” climate change, attacked those who allegedly refused to reward the elderly for their contributions, and defied critics whom he said wanted “perpetual war.” He attacked the rich–as he has done so often over the past four years–and painted a caricature of an unjust nation: “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it….We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.”
President Obama’s address failed to deliver on promises earlier in the day by senior political adviser David Axelrod that the speech would sound themes of national unity on a day of national “consecration.” Instead, the president sounded combative themes familiar from his divisive first term, albeit wrapped occasionally in the lofty rhetoric of “hope” and “tolerance,” and punctuated by the repeated refrain: “We, the People.”
[...] Throughout his address, the President maintained his voice in a near-shout. This was not an historic address, a reflection on a moment in history; it was an exhortation to political action, in contrast to the political reality of a divided Washington, in defiance of the profound economic challenges still facing the American people.
It was a declaration of political war on individual liberty. It was a wasted opportunity–and a warning.
Obama spelled out his true agenda: destroying founding principles about limited government to meet changing times. While paying lip service to “our skepticism of central authority,” Obama said that times have changed, and “so must we”: “fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges … preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” This was the sheerest form of rhetoric sophistry; equating freedom with government control is an perverse reversal of language. Of course, the Constitution was written based on the notion that human nature does not change – people are not angels, nor devils, but self-interested creatures capable of greatness or evil, who must be checked against each other. But Obama doesn’t believe that. He believes that man can be made anew.
But only by government. And so Obama demonized limited government as anarchism, suggesting that meeting “the demands of today’s world by acting alone” is like forcing American soldiers to meet “the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias” – a straw man argument so blatant it appeared Obama would wheel out Ray Bolger to present it. In pursuing his agenda, Obama made clear that he will ignore basic realities – “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” He made clear that he will create false histories – “we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.” He made clear that he will redefine taking and giving – those who wish to save their money for their families and children are “takers,” and those who wish to confiscate the wealth of others “strengthen us.”
In the end, Obama’s argument was a collectivist one. And it was an argument designed to irreparably tear this nation apart. Obama himself said it: “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way …”
But this renders the Declaration of Independence Obama cited completely meaningless. The founders may have disagreed on many things, but they agreed on the meaning of liberty: the right to live as an individual, without centralized planning infringing basic property rights, economic opportunities, and religious freedoms. Obama’s fundamental redefinition of liberty to include communitarianism is not merely wrong, it spells the end of the political commonality that has held the fabric of the nation together. If we define liberty differently, then there is nothing to talk about: my liberty is your tyranny, and vice versa. Our goals can never be shared. That gap can never be bridged.