Below is my draft for this week’s writing prompt: Write Your Own Inaugural Address or Poem for 2021.
I will likely update it over the coming weeks, days, or months.
I’ve never attempted to write anything like this before. It was truly an interesting and empowering exercise. It had a greater impact on me than I originally thought it would. And I’m grateful. If you completed this writing prompt too, be sure to leave a link to it in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Let’s Remember and Rely on Our Democratic Sense
My fellow compatriots, my compatriots in the promise of our great nation— in its lasting spirit, its unassailable democratic customs that continue to push us to strive for a more equitable and perfect union— we meet here today to remember and celebrate our shared sense of democratic duty and privilege. That mysteriously delicate yet strong democratic sense that’s in our veins and bones, that continues to move our minds, our hearts, and our wills, together, as one organism.
I’m deeply grateful for your presence here with me today. I’m grateful for the work and legacies of those public servants here with me, those no longer with us, and those who are currently abroad. Our gathering here today continues one, if not the most, sacred of traditions of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power. This tradition, which embodies how we continue to listen to and honor the will of our fellow compatriots. Things may not be perfect, but this tradition is real, it is strong, and it is lasting. And while we collectively remember and carry out this tradition today, we also place our eyes on the uncertain terrain ahead of us.
Only a few weeks ago, our democratic traditions and our democratic sense were tested. A few attempted to interrupt the promise of our great nation, carried out by our shared democratic sense, our shared sense of purpose. But they faced the reckoning of the American people. And they will continue to face the reckoning of the American people. In the days ahead and in the years ahead. Because, you see, we are used to being tested. Being tested is part of our common history. It’s part of the legacy of our resolve. If one is not tested, there won’t be much to overcome. And we have overcome. And we shall continue to overcome. So far, we have passed every test that came our way, united and stronger as a result. And we know that we still have many tests to pass in the coming years. Yet let me tell you here today: we will pass them. About that, I have no doubts.
The will and strength of the American people is real and unbreakable when we work together with common purpose, in common cause. So, as we look ahead, let us not forget our democractic legacy and purpose, our basic and decent democratic sense that unites us and always ensures we choose the better angels of our nature.
On the news we hear every day about the out-of-control pandemic. Both organized and unorganized disinformation campaigns and irresponsible media coverage and rogue social media groups, or social media groups that are led by some who insist on keeping their faces hidden, have led some of our compatriots away from trusting our doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and other knowledgeable scientists about this pandemic. As a result we currently have some of the highest rates of death due to the pandemic in the world.
We also see footage and social media images and videos of protestors and rioters in our city streets on a consistent basis. And sometimes we’re uninformed or disinformed about who is who and what is what as we watch scattered and combustible events unfold in our city streets because somehow such drastic and tragic events have begun to instigate indifferent commentary and spectacle, not lasting justice or lasting collective, positive common action. We see Black men and women killed by a few of our police officers who need to be held to account, and children separated from their mothers’ arms at our borders, alongside a criminal justice system still inept at bringing justice to those who need to face their day of reckoning but fully capable of discriminately cramming its cells with nonviolent, oftentimes innocent people. Or people who have not been properly heard when the law demands they should be seen and heard.
We see the hate-filled faces of white supremacists and the faces of the essential workers who are not being treated as if or paid as if they are essential to us. We hear how younger generations are struggling to pay student loans, bills, and their rent. Members of a generation who are not in a position to buy a home and start a family, to invest in the future of our nation, or to help care for their aging parents. And we’re also hearing real-life stories about elderly folks who are increasingly unable to retire with dignity due to out-of-control healthcare costs and living costs, whose children aren’t able to care for them in their old age because they simply don’t have the means to do so.
Our parents are tired and have no adequate means and resources to care for their children when they need to work (especially our mothers, and our mothers of color), while our childcare workers and teachers are living day-to-day at the end of their ropes, the breaking point of their sanity, being forced to fish for coins at the bottom of their wallets, only finding lint.
And we hear these things and see these things and experience these things day in and day out, all as our planet is burning down around us due to unwise, unsustainable, and frankly, cruel and outdated economic practices of a select few who hold the majority of the wealth in our nation and across the globe.
But most of us also see the neighbor who is bringing their loved one groceries once a week, sometimes silently pitching in a few dollars for an extra loaf of bread. Or that teacher who stays on a conference call a little longer to help a child struggling with math or reading. And that friend or family member who consistently sends texts out keeping everyone together and connected even if it has to be virtually for a little while, so that we never forget that we are not alone.
We’re also seeing record numbers of grassroots supporters and organizations working diligently and tirelessly to root out greed and bigotry and systemic racism from our politics, our economic institutions, our public institutions, and our private institutions. And they are becoming a sincere force within our communities. And while there is still much work to be done in this arena, and nothing is certain or will happen overnight, there is a new generation stepping up to the plate to ensure that their compatriots have a more just, prosperous, and happy future. Even though many of them are tired, broke, and out of opportunities and options.
We are also hearing more and louder talk about the inequality gap growing in our nation and see its effects in our local communities.
And while we’re deeply grateful to our compatriots for their fortitude and innovative spirits, it’s time for our government to no longer be deaf to the needs and calls of the American people. To stand up and remember that we are here to serve the will of the people.
It’s time to address and end the hardships of this pandemic. To rely on our respected scientists and healthcare experts for advice and guidance and innovation. To wear a mask. To practice social distancing. To distribute vaccines to as many Americans as we can as soon as possible. And to offer real relief to our essential workers and small business communities as soon as humanly possible.
It’s time to address the issues in our criminal justice system, the private funding of our criminal justice system, and to start really listening to those who have been affected by the criminal justice system. Especially those who have not been heard for far too long.
It’s time to weed out bigotry from our policies and our institutions once and for all. That we continue to do the work of getting more people of color in more prominent positions across our great nation, so that our leadership truly reflects what our nation looks like.
It’s time to help our younger generations prosper by offering them more economic opportunities instead of saddling them with debt before they even officially enter the workforce. While we simultaneously insist that our elderly retire with the dignity and respect they deserve, especially our veterans.
It’s time that our parents and teachers get the resources they need, without resistance.
And it’s time that we take an active role in ensuring that our planet doesn’t disintegrate around us, and that our children and future generations actually have a planet to inhabit once we’re gone.
We’ll do this by choosing hope over fear, sharing in our deep-seated democratic sense. By choosing facts over fiction. Science over conspiracy. Unity in common purpose over petty conflict and discord. By remembering that we all drive on the same roads funded by our fellow taxpayers. And benefit from the same public schools funded by our fellow taxpayers, whether we hire their students, work with those students when they’re grown, or send our children to them. And that we all relish in the beauty of our public parks, also funded by our fellow taxpayers. And these memories will serve us well as we serve the American people by developing policies and working toward the systemic change our nation needs right now, day in and day out over the coming years.
Although Americans are charitable in spirit, especially when tested and faced with looming and unforeseen obstacles, we won’t need charity as often if we continue to harness our shared and decent demoratic sense, and remember that we are only as strong as the weakest among us. More opportunities for another compatriot does not shrink your own, but amplifies them. Our democratic sense and legacy is only as strong as the opportunities we create for ourselves, our children, our neighbors, and those Americans who have not yet been born or reached our shores.
Our neighbors also include those beyond our immediate borders, especially in today’s international economy. To you all I say, we will rebuild our valuable alliances and necessary and honorable commitments. And we will work for a more secure and lasting peace. While we regard and respect our troops abroad ardently, they can trust that they will only be placed in harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and that we will always strive to achieve security and peace through diplomatic means as often as possible. We are all connected on this planet in one way or another. And we are all connected most especially in the fight against climate change together right now. Let’s act like it.
While we have many tests ahead of us, my fellow compatriots, there are a few things I know will happen in America, my home, the home of the brave, as long as we are bold enough, resourceful enough, and rely on our democratic sense, together. We will feed the hungry, house the homeless, welcome the stranger, innovate the latest technologies and discover the latest scientific marvels, remain prosperous, and continue to pursue happiness. All while reaching for our greatest ideal: an even stronger, more equitable, and perfect union.
United, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.
Thank you again for joining me here today. God bless you. God bless the world and our planet. God bless our troops and Americans stationed and working overseas. God bless the Americans who have yet to reach our shores. And God bless the United States of America.
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