By John Amoda
THE text of President Barack Obama’s second inaugural speech delivered January 21st, 2013 at the National Mall of the Capitol, Washington DC is similar in tone, gravity and perennial lucidity and clarity to any of the chapters of Moses’ Deuteronomy in the Holy Bible.
It is fascinating to see in Obama’s speech the match between incidents in American political history and the anthems of praise constructed from these incidents;thus the history provides orchestral material for composing soul stiring oratorical prose.
Where else but America do we find such celebrative worship at the national political altar after the most scathing no-prisoner-taken spend-it-all-for-the-vote demonisation of the opponent as was televised in the Obama-Romney presidential race?
All the instant rewriting of the immigrant ethnic “up from poverty, and from rag to middle class self-help patriotisms” constructed to divide the American electorate along party lines are swept under the rug not to be remembered until the next elections.
In a way the parallel between the United States of America and Abrahamic Israel is a striking one.
Both are deliberate beginnings entailing the going out of a country to found another; both are experiments requiring re-experimenting; both look back to a past available for refashioning to accommodate new recasting of the Dream; to accommodate new members bringing to this reconstructing their own peculiar tones and accent as they make the American Dream their own narrative of the becoming of an American. How genuinely and original is this First Generation American.
Obama’s father went to America in the same late and early sixties as we did; he excelled and got the highest academic honours that the best of America’s Ivy Leagues reserved for their best graduates. This son of an African who did not stay to be the first generation is this New High Priest of this “Novus Ordo Seclorum”, “Ex Pluribus Unum” America. See in the following how naturally and flawlessly American he begins the re-enactment of the American Saga:
“Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colours of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.
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 inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Today we continue a never ending journey to bridge these words with the realities of our time.
For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed”.
It is the genius of the American Nationality for it to be metaphysically and politically malleable. The Republic called into being by Obama was once of a Republic fitted only for White Anglo-Saxon America. In 1857, Chief Justice Taney of the American Supreme Court did define the boundaries of the citizenship in racially exclusive terms.
“The question is simply this: Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights and privileges and immunities guaranteed by that instruments to the citizens?
The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people; and are constituent members of the sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included and were not intended to be included under the word “citizens” in the Constitution and therefore can claim none of the rights and privileges which the instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States”.
Mirabile Visu (wonderful to behold) it is this same Constitution, this same Republic, this same people that have refashioned themselves to elect one that belongs to the class of persons” that are not included and were not intended to be included under the word “citizens” in the constitution”. And Obama in good conscience can “bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution” that has affirmed the remarking of the American Republic on non-racialist terms.
It is evident that this celebration of the malleability of American Nationality, a trait quite different from the resilience of that nationality, would not have been featured in the inaugural speech of a Tea Party Republican President. Obama’s presidency indeed is a witness to the enduring strength of “our Constitution”- in a very personal and institutional way for the ownership of the American Constitution has been re-covenanted”.
Obama can legitimately and truly speak for the people as one of the people-severally he raised odes of praise to “we the people”, for they are his people now and forever.
“For we the people understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and growing many barely make it”.
·“We the people still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity”.
·“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity”.
·“We the people still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.
·“We the people declare today that most evident of truths-that all of us are created equal- is the star that guide us still; just as it guided our forebears through Senecan Falls and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women sung and unsung who left footprints along the great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul an Earth”.
The people have earned the right to be eulogized by one of the people in the spirit of all Americans defined by their being in truth and in politics citizens of a New Order of the World (Novus Ordo Seclorum).