By John McClaughry
President Joe Biden did a pretty good job on his inaugural address. His theme was unity, and his speechwriters decorated it with lots of good words like hope, truth, honor, respect, tolerance, goodness, faith, and of course democracy. He also listed half a dozen of the great causes he intends to address, which left me a bit apprehensive.
But the spirit of his address was similar to that of President Jefferson, inaugurated in 1801 after an equally savage and bitter campaign. Said Jefferson, famously, “Let us unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things … we are all republicans – we are all federalists.”
Then after that appeal to unity, President Jefferson went on to offer this excellent prescription for a free republic: “What more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
I wish I could have heard something like that from President Biden, but today’s Democrats have long ago left that thought in the dustbin of history.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.