Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
Today, on the year anniversary of Obama’s inaugural address, let’s imagine his Inaugural words coming from the mouths of Massachusetts voters.
Might they be saying to Obama: “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. Republicans, heaven knows, have proven definitively that they are not our saviors, and the Senate victory in Massachusetts is rich in dramatic irony but in the grand scheme of things a small thing.
But think of it from Catholics’ point of view: The President promised a conscience clause for doctors to Cardinal George, to Catholic journalists and then again at Notre Dame. Then he threw a health bill in our face that would mean the regulatory end to conscience rights on abortion.
He promised a transparent health care process free of lobbyists … but gave us a health care bill controlled in secret by lobbyists. And it isn’t just Catholics who are counting broken promises.
So, you can imagine lots of lines from his Inaugural address coming from Massachusetts voters who handed Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican:
“Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
About the stimulus bill that turned lots of money over to congressional pet projects but fell so short of job-creation intentions, Massachusetts might be saying:
“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, programs will end.”
Even the liberal voters of Massachusetts might have been as upset as Rolling Stone magazine was at his Wall Street answer to Wall Street problems and might be saying this Obama Inaugural line:
“And those of us who manage the public’s dollars 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.”
Pro-lifers might be justifying their vote by using Obama’s words …
“It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”
And with deficit and debt skyrocketing (mostly in the later years of the stimulus plan, to keep it hidden from view in the short term), fiscally responsible Bay State voters will certainly be saying:
“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that 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.”
And at the risk of being too cynical — because Obama truly deserves credit for this beautiful ending to his speech, complete with “father of our nation” reference — alarmed Boston tea-party voters in this year’s record cold winter truly join him in his sentiment from last year:
“In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“’Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].’”
We can truly be proud of the founders of our country for setting up a system that works so brilliantly and allows voters to say all of these things in a way that can’t be ignored.