In President Obama’s inaugural speech, the core message was to break from and right the mistakes of the past with core American values while urging a greater sense of togetherness.   This speech wasn’t the lofty rhetoric Obama was oft criticized about all show and no substance.   No, this speech was all substance: it’s time to remake America, and that will require sacrifice and responsibility from all.

From the transcript:

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

This is the way I see Barack Obama: as a trans-partisan figure.   The debate shouldn’t be about red vs. blue, one party vs. another party; the debate should be about pragmatism.   Does the government work for the people it is meant to work for?

And this passage, a repudiation of the Constitutional distaste and unilateralism of the Bush Administration, also gives me hope for what to expect from an Obama Administration:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

I think it may be easy for many to dismiss this speech simply because it didn’t contain those one or two lines that generations will recite in classrooms.   But those who may dismiss the speech lose sight of the core message: we face problems not solvable by generic, lofty rhetoric.   The problems we face can only be solved by substance, and it’s time to get to work.

With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.