|Page 2 of 2 <|
Post-Partisan? Not Really.
"The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous."
And, finally, a full retreat to limited economic horizons and a collective national guilt trip:
To "those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."
Toward the end of his speech, Obama referred to "the price and the promise of citizenship" -- as though it were a patriotic duty to ante up more of your hard-earned dollars. His infamous exchange with "Joe the Plumber" was no accident; our new president was serious when he said he planned to share the wealth of producers and wage earners. That the top 1 percent of taxpayers shoulder 40 percent of the federal income tax burden appears to no longer be pertinent, or patriotic, enough.
Simply put, words matter. This is particularly true in an inaugural address. Words send signals about intentions. In this case, Obama's words reflect a stated desire to reconfigure the role of government and markets in our country. And not even casual observers can claim surprise.
The political talk shows have been full of debate as to how "red America" should react. Two baseline conclusions should be obvious: First, all Americans should pray for the safety and success of the greatest democracy in the history of the world -- and those prayers and good wishes must extend to the new president, his family and the administration. But when it comes to $825 billion in new deficit spending, increased taxes on producers, the elimination of secret ballots in union elections, protectionism, a "new" fairness doctrine, an end to moral clarity in the fight against terrorism, giving terrorists rights enjoyed by U.S. citizens, a future of limited horizons rather than growth and opportunity, and plain old divisive class-warfare rhetoric -- count me (and millions of other Republicans, Democrats and independents) among the loyal opposition.
The stakes are extraordinarily high -- market capitalism, free speech, the war against terrorism, marginal tax burdens, workplace freedom. Let the great debate begin anew!
The writer, a lawyer at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, was governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007 and a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003.