US President Barack Obama waves after taking the oath of office during the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. The oath was administered by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. ( AFP/Getty Images)
We expect inaugural addresses to contain more promises than policy and make some allowances for the grandiose rhetorical flourish. But while Obama's 2nd Inaugural Address tested the outer limits of eye-rolling, strawmen-incinerating bombast, it also served as a declaration of political war against the Constitution as a document limiting government power. And as for his legacy, we should now have no doubt:
Obama plans to lead to progressive left to total political victory.
This is obvious after President Obama’s first speech of his second term. He will assault the ideological and institutional foundations of limited government and individual liberty. He will push government deeper into every aspect of American life. And he will construct an all-encompassing Leviathan that will endure long after he leaves office.
The first section of Obama’s inaugural described an American historical trajectory pushed along by collective action. Immediately after some pablum about America's founding, Obama declared America’s greatest victories have been collectivist enterprises. Yes, perhaps we once viewed our past as the result of individuals pursuing their dreams free of government interference, but Obama knows better. He explained to the American people that:
“Fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
In this classic Obamaism, he has stated something self-contradictory and false, with a self-assuredness worthy of Socrates. We don’t honor America’s founding principles by coming up with new ones to replace them. The founding fathers did everything they could to limit government power. But Obama can’t be bothered with this, and rejects it anyway. Distorting the founding principles as an invitation to endless government and tyranny by the majority serves his political ends.
Not content to redefine the relationship in this country between citizen and state, Obama took a moment to rub the noses of the opposition in a statement so profoundly disingenuous, it is difficult to know if even he believed it as he read the words:
"Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all societies ills can be cured through government alone."
That may have been true—until Barack Obama became President. At no point in the last four years has Obama shown a moment of hesitation to use government power. His only gripes have revolved around clobbering Congress for standing in the way of his agenda. It’s not that he is skeptical of government power—Obama is skeptical of the other side using it.
As for curing all ills through Big Brother’s smothering embrace, that is Obama’s philosophical foundation. He said as much in the rest of the speech, detailing every progressive policy he intends to ram through, no matter how divisive or unpopular. If he has proven one skill useful for politics—other than demagoguery—it is tenacity. He will cling to the most flimsy justification, and hammer the most banal arguments, day after day. The most overrated orator of the past 30 years knows when all else fails, volume beats virtue.
Once he had run through every liberal platitude imaginable, Obama focused his speech on a call to action. Not content to merely articulate an expansive progressive agenda, Obama turned to the classic maneuver of the rabble-rouser: false urgency. With no financial crisis to provide cover for his hyperbole, Obama tried to ignite a feeling of near-panic in his followers over bad weather and forest fires.
This administration’s second inaugural has set the terms of battle, and we must take Obama at his word. There will be no bi-partisanship. There will be no negotiation. Any attempt to meet him halfway will be met with sneers about the need for “balance.” There will be no end to the destruction of political opponents, and all attempts to block the Obama agenda will be considered threats to the “collective” good.
Obama and his progressive allies have seized this as their moment in the arc of history to finish the job of remaking this country. Whether they succeed over the next four years is a question left to the American people.
Buck Sexton will discuss the president's inauguration speech with the 'Real News' panel on TheBlaze TV at 6pm EST