Posted by: Kevin | November 22, 2006

Let the Word Go Forth

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“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to ensure the survival and success of liberty.”

“Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation – a struggle against the common enemies of man:  tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

These were the words of President John Kennedy at his inauguration (Text and audio found here).  The Kennedy administration rarely lived up to the promise of JFK’s rhetoric but the words themselves are important.  JFK asked Americans to make a sacrifice and to think of something bigger than themselves.  This is the message I’m looking for from our next president.

Contrast that to what we hear from our current crop of leaders.  Compare it with George Bush’s post 9/11 speech.  I won’t quote it due to length but I encourage you to re-read it here.  His message to the American people, found ¾ of the way into the message, is to do nothing, stay calm and continue to participate in the economy.  That’s it, and people wonder why Americans don’t feel connected to the War on Terror.

Words matter, they shape our feelings on an issue.  They frame our thoughts.  John Kennedy went to the people with the request that we live up to the promise of our principles.  He used words like sacrifice.  He asked us to join in a historic effort.  And Americans responded.  George Bush told us to sit tight and let big brother take care of things.  I know which message I prefer and I think most Americans would agree with me. 

So this is the message that I want to send to politicians of both parties, on the 43rd anniversary of JFK’s assassination.  STOP SELLING US SHORT!  You will soon be competing for the right to govern a great nation.  Start treating the voters like great people.  Treat us like we are capable of understanding the threats to our nation.  Treat us like we want to take an active hand in meeting those threats.  Ask us for our best efforts, and we will respond.

Complete text of JFK’s inauguration speech can also be found here

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