Archive for November 3rd, 2008

“My Fellow Americans…”

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Tomorrow, Supreme Court willing, American voters will elect a new President of the United States. And, based on a thoroughly non-scientific analysis of the yard signs in my neighborhood, about 49.9% of us are going to be ticked.

The U.S. of A has been dis-united throughout the last several election cycles, with so-called “red” and “blue” states (nominally in favor of one candidate or the other), almost as divided as the nation itself. This means that the winning candidates – even as they make their inaugural speeches – know that nearly half the people listening do so through clenched teeth.

The victor’s words have the potential to begin the healing process. Unfortunately, not all the winners take advantage of that opportunity. In his 2nd inaugural address, U.S. Grant said: “I have been the subject of abuse and slander scarcely ever equaled in political history, which today I feel that I can afford to disregard in view of your verdict, which I gratefully accept as my vindication.”

Or in other words, to my critics: “nanny-nanny boo-boo.”

But Thomas Jefferson, though he had been accused of atheism, miscegenation, cowardice in time of war, and of being the offspring of a baboon, took the high road: “Let us then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social harmony and intercourse that harmony and affection without which Liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.”

Beautifully said (although I would caution any politician today to be careful advocating a restoration of “intercourse.” Word meanings change, from time to time.)

The best of all healing inaugural addresses came from Abraham Lincoln, who gave us a glimpse of what Reconstruction might have been, had he lived: “With malice toward none, with charity for all… let us strive on… to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves and all nations.”

For the sake of our country, I hope our next President’s inaugural address strikes a similarly uplifting theme.

It’s so much better than “nanny-nanny boo-boo.”