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Washington, DC
January 21st, 2009

    Friends, Americans, and all who listen --

    We, the people, have come to this place, as our ancestors did, to begin anew the American adventure. To renew her covenants, to restore her honor, to rebuild her cities, towns, and farms, to re-establish her credit, and to reshape her future. Last November we had an American revolution; it is now our task to enact an American restoration.

    We are setting aside an old age, ending its actions, abolishing its decrees, and turning, once and for all, a heavy page of history. We will not forget the fallen, those who died in duty, in our defense, or in the old era's disasters. We have not forsaken our friends, forsworn our debts, or forgone our burdens. But we will not repeat the mistakes that have cost so many so much.


    America has awakened and found itself in a new day, which we must now seize. We have passed through a long, turbulent night of the American soul, and the light that pours in now shows us a world, and an America, that are not what we wish them to be. The policies of borrow and squander block our growth, blacken our reputation, and burden our people. We will no longer pare down our reserves, but instead prepare for such reverses as may come. America will lose no more cities to casual negligence and manifest incompetence.

    Where we were promised prosperity, we find perdition. Where we were promised rebuilding, we find wreckage. Where we were promised victory and valor, we find instead ruin and reaction. Where we were promised unity, we find instead usury.

    Let us vow, then, to set ourselves to the task of making this America, our America. Let us no longer have the living work for the dead, nor the present for the past. We realize that we will not find vindication in violence, nor build peace on others' poverty. America's fortune is not a treasure that can be hoarded, because freedom is the one thing that grows more valuable the more people possess it. Jefferson reminded us that the tree of liberty is watered by the blood of patriots. But also by their sweat and tears.

    This administration has been given the privilege to lead America forth into a new day, and a decent respect for the mandate of the people requires that it should announce its course of action plainly, and before the waiting world. It is our goal to mend old fences, end old enmities, and restore our defenses. We shall deliberate openly, decide openly, and act openly. It is our intent to set ourselves by that higher standard that our Founding Fathers called us to, and that our great heroes have held us to. We know that we must be judged by the content of our character, by the ends of our actions, and by results and not rationalizations. This new America will not offer excuses, it will not accept excuses, and it shall not any longer need excuses.

    It is our first task to right the imbalances left to us by the past - in our economy, in our society, and in our polity. Some are recent; others have accumulated over the decades, products of inattention as much as ill intention. But we will not let the age of injustice be an excuse for our inaction. This will require dramatic deeds, but born of common consent, and molded by due deliberation. It is given in the Constitution for the citizens of the United States, in Congress assembled, to shape the mighty course of our efforts towards our ends. It is given in our Constitution for our President to execute our will toward our wishes.

    And the people have spoken plainly on this one point above all: we must end this terrible war, entered without evidence, pursued without profit, and prolonged without purpose. If there is a penance to pay for the past, we shall embrace it. If there is a price, we shall pay it. And we shall act to end the wars that have not yet begun and threaten to consume us. But let no would-be despot believe that we will consent to his designs to plunder the peace for his own profits, nor will we leave uncontested the denigrations of the human spirit. Wherever and whenever people struggle for renewal, let us be there. Wherever and whenever people are stricken with misfortune, let us be there. Let us not set one rule for the rich, and another for the wretched, nor let there be one law for the privileged and another for the populace.

    It is our second task to rebuild, both in body and in spirit, that which was left to disrepair and decay. America will, again, be the shining city on a hill, for we are still rich in resource. But we will never again allow ourselves to be blinded by the glare of shinging spires or glittering promises.

    It is our third task to end the indecency of an economy of extraction, which seeks to strip-mine our country, its credit, its cities and its citizens for only passing gain. We will again reward work and not windfalls, effort and not ease. It is the will of the people that we leave behind a better America, one that can sustain its growth, and act on that scale which is required to bring peace to a troubled world. For we may only say we have what we can keep, and we may only say we own what we have earned, and not merely borrowed from those who come after us.

    It is our final task for this time, to begin anew the great work set forth in our Declaration, that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. Because it is in inequity that terror breeds, weaning whole generations on warfare and violence. Because it is in alienation that fury churns, until it is a storm that sweeps aside whole cities. Because where we deny life and liberty, we dissolve the political bands that bind us together.

    We do this because we look over the world and see that nothing is more surely writ in the book of fate than that all the world's peoples will be free. We must end, in our lifetimes and through our exertions, the long and sorry history of human bondage. Whether to country or corporation, whether by law or custom. Whether through debt or indenture. Whether held by force, or fear, or fraud. Whether in naked day, or in night and fog. Whether bound by chains of iron or of ignorance. For whether in the name of God or the name of Gold, there is no good in it. And it is time for bondage and all its works to perish into history and be remembered only as a word in old books and children's rhymes.

    We will do this by having a democratic society. Which means, not merely democratic balloting, but democracy in all of our public life. In the manner which we govern ourselves, run our firms, and order our society.

    These tasks will be neither simple nor soon to fruition. They will come at a cost, and loss of some petty comforts, and demand that greater courage and sacrifice which comes from faith in the foundations of our nation, however much they may need repair and reinforcement. Faith that they shall never be washed away, hewn as they are from the great truths of the spirit.

    These tasks are not burdens, but the laying down of burdens. They will not hinder our success, but instead insure it. The will not limit our liberties, nor reduce our freedoms. Instead, relieved of the weight of the past, we give to our posterity - to our children, and to theirs - a new heaven and a new earth.

    But we will not reach them by turning away. We will not open the world by closing our doors. We will not open new vistas by closing our eyes. We will not open our future by closing our hearts. We have seen the costs of a closed America, closed in spirit, governed in close collusion. In the end, such an America is not even open for business.

    For it is only with open minds and open actions that our endeavors will pour forth to a waiting world, eager to join with us to heal an earth that is wounded by that century of war that we now end.

    Let this day be the charter of liberties, and let us, by dedicating this change of government, dedicate ourselves to change, not only in government. It was some three score and sixteen years ago that an American President came to office and saw one third of America ill housed, ill clothed and ill fed. We now see a world one third of which is ill housed, ill clothed, and ill fed. We will not lift them up by sapping our own strength, nor give them hope by cries of guilt - any more than greed will grant us the heart to embark on the long day's journey into right that we now undertake.

    Let them say, when in the future they speak of their age, that it began here, in this place, at this hour. Appointed by law, but anointed of the people, by the people, and for the people, and hallowed by the fruits of our labors.

    For just as dawn might be delayed, but never denied, this new light shall flood the world, into this land and every other. Let us arise, go forth - to help, to heal, to hold - awakening all in this restoration, which is never to slumber again.

Originally posted to Stirling Newberry on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 05:27 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Too bad the Golden Age of Oratory is passed... (4.00)
    Newberry, you're right up there with Webster, Clay, Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, and the Book of Revelation.  In fact, you're completely over the top. Are you trying to bring on some sort of liberal Apocalypse with this ringing manifesto or have you been drinking? Thanks for the inspiring words, but I don't need a new heaven and a new earth; I just want a new Congress and a new Executive. A new Judiciary would be swell, too.
  •  Good Speech Sterling (4.00)
    Are you putting your hat in the ring or auditioning for a job a speech writer for the next administration.  Your words ring strong and clear, our job is to work to make sure that there is someone being sworn in who is worthy of your speech.

    ...in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent
    -G.W. Bush
    Looking in the mirror?

    by Luam on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 05:43:45 AM PDT

    •  have you sent your resume (4.00)
      to Gen. Clark? I could see him giving a speech like this. And coming off credibly to the majority of the public, including those of us who aren't already converted.

      remember your humanity, and forget the rest

      by human on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 08:31:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clinton (3.66)
    Pres. Hillary Clinton never sounded so good to my ears. It's amazing how much different a speech given by a politician who has a liberal outlook sounds from what we hear today. Conservative speechmaking is all about fear, fear, fear and pessimism ... and fear.

    "When you starve the beast, you starve the people. And the bathtub was a reference to New Orleans." -- bink

    by bink on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:03:47 AM PDT

  •  Optimism wins! (4.00)
    Great speech, Sterling!  

    So much of what we see wrong today would be put right if the actions outlined in your speech were the basis for the next administration's actions.  I hope that will be the case.

    And I hope that the candidates out there are reading and listening to you - good principles and damn fine turn of phrase!

  •  Let's call it the 'ProMod Restoration'... (none)
    short for Progressive Moderates.  Plus I really like the 'Restoration' angle in your stirring speech, which, at this point, should be delivered by President Feingold (unless some other progressive Dem steps up boldly and quickly).

    Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

    by Doolittle Sothere on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:18:25 AM PDT

  •  You made me cry. (4.00)
    It would be wonderful if the USA finally elected a president who could say those words and mean them -- and make them a reality.

    So wonderful. So inspiring. So... unattainable.

    I found myself sobbing, I ache so much for it to happen... and yet I have no belief left that it will come to pass. I see the weaknesses so clearly, but please, oh please God, let me be wrong. Prove me wrong, my American friends!

    Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

    by Canadian Reader on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:26:17 AM PDT

    •  Tears and cheers (none)
      This is the kind of speech that JFK or RFK or MLK would have given. Can you tell me where thay've gone?

      For a long time I felt that Aaron Sorkin should write the next Democratic Presidential Inaugural Address, but I think I'll give the job to Newberry instead.

      Beware those who claim to be "The Chosen", for they have already led themselves astray and seek to lead you down the same path. There are no "Chosen."

      by sxwarren on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:49:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  has there ever been (none)
    an Inaugural address (in the US) that frankly denounced the previous administration?

    I love this speech -- what's not to love? -- yet I sense its words would fit better as a victory speech at the DNC primary in July 2008.  

    Great job, Stirling.  While this might not be the exact speech delivered on January 20, 2009... I share your faith that a softball version of it will be.

    •  At least one... (none)
      "Our long national nightmare is over."
         - Gerald Ford

      You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably. - Jon Stewart to Tucker Carlson

      by eyelessgame on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 09:58:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ripping Good Speeches (none)
      Jefferson implied Adams was despotic, and that he presided over a rude and tumultuous political culture.

      Harrison ripped Jackson and van Burean for being monarchical.

      Polk ripped Tyler for abuse of power and over stretching the constitution.

      Pierce Ripped Taylor/Fillmore for not being expansionist.

      Cleveland ripped Hayes for partisanship.

      McKinely ripped Cleveland's handling of the economy.

      FDR ripped Hoover pretty well.

      Ford's and Reagan both rejected the previous administrations fairly clearly.

  •  GOP: Borrow and Squander (none)

    This is the perfect campaign bumper sticker (and frame) for the Dems in 2006.
  •  From your mind and keyboard (none)
    to god's mind.  Whatever gods there be.  We need to make sure that every elected official is peppered with copies of this and a note saying THIS is what we need.

    I am humbled.  Thank you.

    "War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means." - Karl von Clausewitz

    by maybeeso in michigan on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:42:40 AM PDT

  •  Also people running for public office (none)
    many copies of this.

    Is there a short term we could use for this?
    ____ Manifesto?   or ?   Something that would fit on signs to remind people running for public office that there's more than just winning.  

    "War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means." - Karl von Clausewitz

    by maybeeso in michigan on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:46:21 AM PDT

  •  Why wait for 2008 (none)
    when there is so much that could be done sooner if we could get a Democratic Congress in 2006...we could cut funding for the war, we could start investigating the Bush boondoggles in a big way...we could rescind the tax cuts and get the country started back on the path to solvency...even push through some version of national health insurance that the chimp would be forced to veto...

    Also, the more democrats we elect at the state and local level, the better shape we'll be in to take back government at all levels. The big lesson of 2004 should be that democracy is not something you do every four years, it's something you do every year, all the time.

  •  extremely impressive, Sterling (4.00)
    Now, for a follow-up, Mister Big Pants, how the hell would a Democrat pull off this vision in the political climate we are living in? How would they overcome "The Hunting of the President II?" In order for this vision to be real, the leadership has to flow from whoever makes this speech right down through Congress to city officials and town leaders, as well as community members, individuals. How do we shift the political climate we're living in so that change comes to Gretna, too, so that leaders of that community speak the same words and come from the same vision and sense of community? How do we restore trust? How do we overcome the partisan divide to create a climate of true deliberation of perspectives and possible solutions grounded in fact and truth with a commitment to do the most good for the most people? Because if we don't find a way to do that, I'm afraid this will just be a pretty speech made by a well-meaning public servant who makes a noble effort but is overcome by the manipulative machinery of the win-or-die-I-am-right wing feeding off deep seated public anger and distrust.
    •  FDR and Jefferson (4.00)
      faced presses in their own day that were as bad, or worse, than ours. They won them over with candor, with action, and with a good bit of old fashion personal charm. The media doesn't hate the Democratic party, or even Democrats, they just haven't been that impressed with how the Democratic Party and its candidates have performed. The polls show that Democrats aren't happy with their leadership.

      The answer is that it will take effort from everyone - from us, from the candidates, from the party apparatus, from those who are sympathetic to a progressive America - to do better. We've come a long way from the pit of 2002, in terms of organization, voice, rhetoric, ideas, even leadership.

      We can make speeches - and the deeds that will make them real, and not hollow words - a reality, in our lifetimes. There's nothing wrong with America that we can't fix with the work of our own hands.

      •  STIRling, not sterling..... (none)
        Okay then, I like your optimism.

        I wasn't really talking so much about the media, though,  as I was about public attitudes and tendencies. I agree that strong leadership and charisma will get us far. I think Kerry lacked that, and he lacked CONFIDENCE, which I think was a big deal. The concern I have is that someone will be elected on a wave of anger and vitriol who isn't actually one of those leaders. We can't afford it.

        But I also think that there is a lot of Democrat-bashing that ends up being a way to avoid our own collective action. Sometimes we bash where there is nothing to bash (like making up votes from Democrats we don't agree with i.e. "Feinsteinn voted for the Bankruptcy Bill and Priscilla Owen, Biden voted for Gonzales" etc) It's a way to avoid OUR responsibility in creating a world where the kind of dialogue and community and search for solutions is possible. Whoever this person is that finally wins will need us all to have their back and be the change we wish to see in the world.....

  •  The best speech never given. (none)
    Awesome, Sterling. You can write...How long did this take, if I may ask. It's a real masterpiece.

    We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. Aesop (620 - 560 BC)

    by AWhitneyBrown on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 07:08:23 AM PDT

  •  give it a try (none)
    Democracy-rule by the people- sounds like a fine thing. We should try it sometime in America. -E.A.

    There is no force more potent in the modern world than stupidity fueled by greed. -ed abbey

    by elkhunter on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 07:17:09 AM PDT

  •  Feingold/Newberry '08 (none)
    As usual, you elevate the blogosphere with words that surpass print periodicals.

    Should we fail in '08, and we need to divorce ourselves from the executive tyrant, feel free to mine this declaration.

    America saw the savagery of Katrina and prepared to help. Bush saw the savagery of Katrina and prepared for another round of golf.

    by Republic Not Empire on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 07:33:57 AM PDT

  •  Hooray (none)
    for alliteration!

    Culture of life? More like Republican cesspool of violence.

    by vancookie on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 07:44:00 AM PDT

  •  Of Human Bondage (none)
    We -- you -- can begin to end it, today:

    http://warresisters.org/wtr.htm

    If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

    by HenryDavid on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 07:47:36 AM PDT

  •  Very nice (none)
    now let's find the candidate that can say words along those lines with honesty and conviction.
  •  I will read this at our Peace Vigil this week (none)
    Thank you.  Sterling, do you support the Department of Peace legislatation just re-introduced last week?  I think it's time has come and we need to encourage our represenatives to have the courage to give it credibility.

    www.ThePeaceAlliance.org

  •  So many fine visions of leadership (4.00)
    I enjoyed this piece very much, even those moments where it got a bit, er, turgid. With another draft or two this could be the perfect inaugural. It is really a remarkably fine achievement.

    (BTW, I actually liked your "If We Had a Real President" speech better.)

    The problem lies in the assumed predicate of electing someone like this.

    I have heard similarly brilliant speeches from unreal presidents before.  Aaron Sorkin made a movie and a hit TV series on the strength of similar fictional speeches, and his too were brilliant.

    The problem is, I fear, that it will take a complacency shaking crisis (and maybe Katrina will suffice, I don't know.  It doesn't feel like it from here in Minnesota) to make "the masses" realize that the Republican agenda is outright contrary to their interests.

    You see, things have been going well enough for enough of the people that the right has succeeded in marching their self-serving and socially destructive agenda past a sleepwalking public.

    I'm an affluent suburbanite. A child of the high-energy economy. I could so easily believe in the Republican agenda because as far as I can tell, I don't need anybody. I work. I make money.  I buy everything I need. The labor of the millions who support me is invisible. It looks like corporations support me. I don't owe anything to the rest of the people. They are just burdens on my back.

    Now, I know that is completely wrong. I know that my lifestyle is built on thousands of low-wage workers working for wealthy companies. And I understand that that model won't work when things "go south" for even a little while. I believe in economic justice because I can see the long term consequences of the economic disparity in this country. And the wealthy should see it too.  But money abstracts community. And community suffers because it becomes invisible.

    I fear that we will not awaken to our responsibilities to one another until we are thrown violently on to our own resources, and we find them lacking, and we are forced to turn to one another in the community for succor.  Then we will see what has been true all along: that we depend entirely on one another.

    So, Stirling, I hope to hear that speech come out of the mouth of an elected president, but I fear what we as a nation may have to go through before it comes to pass.

  •  it's brilliant, but... (4.00)
    this is a stunning piece of work, of course, and if I were hiring a speechwriter, you would definitely get the gig.  I think this one is even better than the If We Had A Real President speech that wowed us all at the beginning of the month.

    However, I have been (temporarily) beaten down into such cynicism by Hurricane Katrina that reading this is almost cruel, like dangling a gourmet meal just out of reach of a person who has been struggling to live on crumbs through five years of famine.

    What is worse, I honestly can't think of a Democrat in the running who is capable of delivering this inaugural address.  I've heard Feingold only in committee meetings, although since I live close to NH I'll have opportunities to hear him speak in person soon enough.  And I won't rehash here my opinion about Hillary's speaking ability...  

    A great speech can be ruined by lackluster delivery.  Words that ring in our imaginations because of self-supplied emphasis can fall splat and lay stiff if there is no oratorical life in the person reading them.  A great writer alone cannot make a great speech; a candidate must be found whose public speaking skills can adequately translate the integrity and conviction behind the words from the page to the audience's ears.

    I hate to be a wet blanket on this thread with all its well-deserved praise for the Newberry Manifesto, but this diary actually filled me with a kind of despair.  Yes it is a masterwork with many glorious turns of phrase that would deservedly go down in history if the speech could ever be given.  But is there is a Democratic candidate out there who could read these words and make them sing?  Barack Obama isn't running.  Dean made that DNC promise.  Maybe Wes on a good day could get this one moving; I'll admit that he was the one whose voice and face I imagined in my mind while I was reading it.

    So as uplifting as it was to read this great piece of work, for me it also highlights what I feel is wrong with our party: we have a surplus of inspiring ideas and behind-the-scenes leaders with soaring vision, but so few public faces available who can put flesh on the ideas and vision in an accessible, appealing way.

  •  I would like your permission... (none)
    ... to speak this aloud on Saturday or Sunday in Washington, DC. Unless you already plan to, that is.

    Amazing. Dude, you need to get a job as a speech writer. Recommended.

    Joe Lieberman and Lincoln Chafee are ON NOTICE - John Orman and Sheldon Whitehouse for Senate 2006!

    by Scoopster on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 09:06:16 AM PDT

  •  thank you (none)
    this is what someone who loves america sounds like.

    this is the tone good and thoughtful people who love america are moved by.

    not lies, excuses, fearmongering or  "god hates fags".
    it's rare to see words worthy of being engraved in stone; these qualify.

  •  Great Speech (none)
    Every candidate should read this speech and incorporate it into their campaigns.
  •  Oh gawd, Stirling ... (none)
    And the people have spoken plainly on this one point above all: we must end this terrible war, entered without evidence, pursued without profit, and prolonged without purpose.

    Which war will that be on January 21, 2009? Still in Iraq? Iran? Some new "threat" the current Administration invents to try to boost its poll numbers?

    Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 09:47:56 AM PDT

  •  Shouldn't it read like this? (none)
    And the people have spoken plainly on this one point above all: we must end this terrible war, entered without evidence, pursued without for profit, and prolonged without purpose.

    Republican't Leadership is a dangerous combination of cut-backs and incompetence.

    by casamurphy on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 09:59:12 AM PDT

  •  A Grand Vision... (none)
    ...there aren't enough of those, at least in the positive sense, these days. Nor a political party that can speak it, much less implement it. However, if we manage to survive the right-wing destruction of America now occuring, I think you will see a new "Democratic" party emerge that will live up to that speech. I say that simply because I know most of the people here, at DKos, based on what they've written, won't settle for anything less in the long run.

    Your speech is an excellent admonishment to the current Democratic Party; Be Bold!
    Thanks for sharing the vision.

    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

    by Alumbrados on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 10:02:44 AM PDT

  •  Powerful..... (2.50)
    what a great piece of speech writing. Based on what I read, I'd vote you, in 2008!!! Why not!

    "These guys are biggest bunch of lying crooks I have ever seen" John Kerry

    by alnc on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 10:14:05 AM PDT

  •  Speechwriter? (none)
    No Sterling.  If this is what's on your mind, we don't need you writing speeches.  We need you in the Senate.  
    Thank you now and always.  You never fail to inspire.

    [the POTUS is]"again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined obj. & no exit strategy. " -Rick Santorum, 1999

    by Austin in PA on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 10:56:25 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful. One edit (none)
    I love your speech.

    Well, since you had the chutzpah to write it, I will permit myself the audacity of suggesting an edit:

    "America will lose no more cities to casual negligence and manifest incompetence."

    The prepositional phrase does not scan properly, becoming more fragmented toward the end of the sentence. How about something like along these lines:

    "We will lose no more great buildings by negligence, and will drown no more proud cities by incompetence."

  •  Great speech.... (none)
    you should consider speechwriting as a job...
  •  there he goes (none)
    channelling the foundry fathers again...

    has any one here experienced using the power of visualisation to concretely affect their own personal future reality?

    yeah, i know, deepak time!

    i could SEE the light flowing around whoever has the privilege of voicing this superior exercise of rhetorical vision, acknowledgement of responsibility, admonition, and appropriate, globally conscious vouchsaving of all of our wishes: one peaceful, sustainably husbanded world for all sentient beings.

    amen, tell it stirling!

    p.s. did you mean 'singing spires'?

    why? just kos..... *just cause*

    by melo on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 12:26:47 PM PDT

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