By Robert Tracinski – January 22, 2013
(Real Clear Politics)—I was not going to comment on President Obama’s second inaugural address until I saw a headline quoting a line from the speech: “We are made for this moment.”
Really? “This moment”—again?
“This moment” was in Obama’s big speech in Berlin as a candidate, when he declared to the “people of the world” that “this is our moment. This is our time.” For what, was never clear and still isn’t. “This moment” was also in his acceptance speech in 2008 and it was probably in his last inaugural. Let’s just say that we’ve heard it before.
I said recently that politics is going to be boring for a little while, but in his second term, Barack Obama is going to be really super boring.
The rest of his speech suffered from the same insufferable sameness. Paths will be long and difficult, “some” may be recalcitrant naysayers, but it will be our generation’s task to carry on, etc., etc., etc.
Within all of this, there was a central idea, but it was—no surprise—one we’ve heard before.
“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.”
This is the president’s favorite false alternative: either we do things “alone,” or government does them for us “collectively.” What this world view leaves out, of course, is the voluntary cooperation of private individuals, particularly their cooperation in the free market. Which is to say that he excludes from his world view the actual majority of human activity.
But this is the basic false alternative of every Obama speech, and it is the flimsy intellectual foundation of his entire presidency. Individualism and the free market always mean doing everything “alone,” and the only alternative, the only way of doing things “together,” is a giant government program.