To understand leftism, the most dynamic religion of the last 100 years, you have to understand how the Left thinks. The 2013 inaugural address of President Barack Obama provides one such opportunity. To begin:
What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
What American does not resonate to a president’s reaffirming this magnificent statement from our Declaration of Independence?
But here’s the intellectual sleight of hand: “What makes us exceptional — what makes us American” is indeed the belief that rights come from God.
And this seminal idea is not mentioned again in the entire inaugural address.
This was most unfortunate. An inaugural address that would concentrate on the decreasing significance of God in American life — one of the Left’s proudest accomplishments — would address what may well be the single most important development in the last half-century of American life.
We learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
If there is one word that most excites progressives, it is “new.” (“Old” things turn the Left off; Judeo-Christian religions and the Constitution are two such examples.)
The fact is that Americans did not make “themselves anew” after the Civil War. What they did was finally affirm what was old — the Founders’ belief that “all men are created equal.”
So why did the president say this? Because what he and the Left want to do is to make America anew — by making it a left-wing country.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.
The president used the word “together” four times in his speech. In no instance did it make sense. What he meant each time is “government.” In the mind of the Left, “together” and government are one.
Moreover, the point is meaningless. We determined that “a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce”? Isn’t that utterly self-evident? Isn’t it as meaningless as saying that “together, we determined that jets are faster than propeller planes?
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Again, “together” — meaning the government.
And, again, an intellectual sleight of hand in order to make his case for more government.
To make this clear, apply this statement to baseball: “Together, we discovered that a baseball team only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.”
Baseball thrives when athletes commit their lives to excelling and when owners take financial risks to produce excellent teams. It is not “only” umpires and rules that enable baseball to thrive.
The free market “only thrives” when individuals have the freedom to take risks. Too large a government and too many rules choke the free market. Look at Europe and every other society with too many rules governing the marketplace.
Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
This is pure leftism: Individual freedom will be preserved by an ever-expanding state.
The whole American experiment in individual freedom has been predicated on as small a government as possible.
No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need . . . or build the roads and networks and research labs.
Who, pray tell, has ever said that a single person can train all teachers, build the roads, etc.?
The point he is making, once again, is that only the government can do all these things.
The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
This is either a non sequitur or a falsehood. Huge government programs do not increase risk taking, and, yes, they often do make “a nation of takers.” Again, look at Europe. If such programs encouraged entrepreneurial risk-taking, European countries would have the most such risk-takers in the Western world. Instead, Europe has indeed become a continent of takers.
We will respond to the threat of climate change. . . . Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
“The overwhelming judgment of science.” Just as the Left has changed global warming to “climate change,” the president has now changed scientists to “science.” To differ with the environmentalist Left on the sources of whatever global warming there is, or whether to impede the economic growth of the Western democracies in the name of reducing carbon emissions, is now to deny “science” itself, not merely to differ with some scientists.
Moreover, all three proofs of climate change the president adduces are false.
The Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, who believes that there is global warming and that it is caused primarily by carbon emissions, has written about the president’s claims:
On fires: “Analysis of wildfires around the world shows that since 1950 their numbers have decreased globally by 15%.”
On drought: “The world has not seen a general increase in drought. A study published in Nature in November shows globally that ‘there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.’”
On storms: “Hurricane activity is at a low not encountered since the 1970s. The U.S. is currently experiencing the longest absence of severe landfall hurricanes in over a century.”
The president continued:
That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.
Finally God is mentioned — on behalf of solar panels and windmills! The god of the Left is the god of environmentalism.
We the people still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.
The president’s favorite American — the Straw Man. Who exactly believes in “perpetual war”? Perhaps the president confuses perpetual strength with perpetual war.
Had he not been a leftist, he would have said: “We the people still believe that enduring security and lasting peace require perpetual American strength.”
But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war.
Whatever peace we have won has been won as a result of war and/or being militarily prepared for war. But acknowledging that would mean abandoning leftist doctrine.
We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.
“Not because we are naïve”? The entire sentence is an ode to the Left’s naïveté regarding evil.
Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
The president didn’t say what would create more security in children than anything else — a father in their lives. Why didn’t he? Because the Left doesn’t talk about the need for fathers. Such talk is deemed sexist, anti-women, anti-single-mothers, and anti-same-sex-marriage.
But the Left does talk utopian. In what universe are children “always safe from harm”? The answer is in the utopian imagination of the Left, which then passes law after law and uproots centuries of values in order to create their utopia.
Being true to our founding documents . . . does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way.
That’s more left-wing ideology: Liberty means what you want it to mean. As do marriage, art, family, truth, and good and evil.
We cannot . . . substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.
No conservative could agree more with that. They are, after all, two of the most prominent features of left-wing political life.
Let us . . . carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
The president began his address citing Creator-given rights, but never mentioned either the Creator or Creator-given rights in what followed. So, too, he ended his address with a call to freedom that had nothing to do with anything he said preceding it. The address was about climate change, same-sex marriage, equal pay for women, and mostly, expanding the power of the state — not freedom.
The speech was not inspiring. But it did have one important value: It illuminated how the Left thinks.
— This analysis of the president’s inaugural address is Dennis Prager’s third column this year in an ongoing series, “How the Left Thinks.” Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted atdennisprager.com.