Lott, Senator Daschle, Chief Justice Rehnquist, Speaker Hastert, Mr.
President, Mr. Vice President, my fellow Americans:
stand before you a humble man. I am humbled by the honor that has been
bestowed upon me: the honor of serving as the 43rd president of
this great Republic. I am humbled by the well wishes of my colleagues and
fellow citizens, and humbled by their optimism and their faith in a brighter
future for themselves and their children.
Americans truly do stand on the brink of a brighter future; a future gleaming
with a promise bequeathed to us over 200 years ago by the brave men who
founded this country. At that time, the future of America was much more in
doubt. Nothing was guaranteed. The founders’ promise, the promise of
freedom, took the courage, honor, and dedication of many brave souls to bring
it to fruition. But bring it they did.
stand at the dawn of a new millennium, we do well to remember that promise,
and to remember that compared to the great sacrifices made by those patriots
of the past, what is required of us to keep the torch of liberty burning in
our time is relatively little. But even though most of us will never be asked
to give our lives or fortunes for freedom’s sake – as our
forefathers did – we can still pledge our sacred honor to do the little
things that need to be done to keep America the envy of the world, its beacon
start, we can speak the truth to each other, everywhere and always, even and
especially when it is painful to do so. We can take care of ourselves and our
families. We can accept our responsibilities, both large and small. We can
admit when we are wrong, and make amends if necessary. We can help our
friends and neighbors when they are in need. We can teach our children the
difference between right and wrong.
can ask God for His blessing as we do these things, and for His forgiveness
if and when we fail to perform these vital tasks.
short, we can heed the advice of another of our presidents, Calvin Coolidge.
He said, "If all the folks in the United States would do the few simple
things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care
America does face some big problems. Crime in our streets, drugs in our
schools, and unrest in the world around us. But we can overcome even the
biggest problems not by pointing fingers of blame at others but by looking to
ourselves and pledging, as individuals, to make our own corner of the world a
takes courage to do the things we ought to do. And it takes dedication to do
them in the face of resistance. Resistance not only from within ourselves,
but also from without.
take the oath of office today, I am reminded that troubling examples of this
outward resistance to doing the right thing abound today across America.
People who want to take care of their families struggle with a crushing tax
burden that takes a greater portion of their incomes than the portion they
spend on food, clothing, and housing combined. That is wrong.
who want to accept their responsibilities, work hard, and succeed are trapped
in a cycle of welfare dependency that discourages them from earning more and
prevents them from standing on their own two feet. That is wrong.
who want to go into business for themselves, to have their chance at the
American Dream, are frustrated and sometimes stopped entirely by a mass of
regulatory red tape and punitive fees and taxes. That is wrong.
who want to teach their children right from wrong, to be more involved in
their children’s education through home-schooling, are too often hassled
by education and social services bureaucrats who think they always know best.
That is wrong.
who want to devote more of their resources to charity are instead forced to
fund countless ineffective government welfare programs that often hurt those
they are supposed to help. That, too, is wrong.
others help themselves is the essence of what I mean by "compassionate
conservatism." It will be the business of my administration to see to it
that taxes are lowered, barriers are removed, and freedom is restored so that
all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams without the heavy
hand of government keeping them down.
American forefathers fought the most powerful government on earth, their own
government, for the right to live in peace and freedom, to order their
affairs as they saw fit. They fought for their liberty. And they won.
that is still the task before us. Again the people of America groan beneath a
powerful government. Again that government is their own government. But as in
the past, we can break with the trend, throw back Leviathan’s
tentacles, and once again declare our independence.
now begin to reclaim our proud American birthright of liberty. Let us have
the courage to always do the right thing. Let us move forward confidently
into the future. My fellow Americans, I say to you: let freedom ring.
bless you, and God bless America.
George W. Bush