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We Are All Presidential Speechwriters

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This is the week when everyone in Washington, and even some of us in the rest of the country, become aspiring State of the Union speech writers. The papers are full of speculation about what the president will say and even more advice about what he should say.

The conventional consensus, 36 hours out, is that he will talk about jobs. Now there is a safe bet. Of course he will talk about jobs. We still have over nine percent unemployment, large corporate cash reserves and little expansion investment, and workers who are giving up the search. He will talk about the need for investment in education and training, in new technologies, in less regulation for job-creating small businesses, and how we must become competitive in innovation. Democrats will cheer. Republicans will sit on their hands, and in interviews afterwards criticize him for not cutting more spending--in the abstract.

Beyond the predictable, however, a few of us would like to hear something else. A reminder of the principles upon which our nation was founded. The ideals of self-reliance, but also of community. Beneath the strains of more government-less government, more spending-less spending, leave-me-alone versus the commonwealth lies the deeper question: what kind of society do we want?

The president alone can authoritatively answer that question, at least based on his own perspective. He can suggest that the best way to liberate the energies of the individual is to create a nation that cares about the individual. The best way to let people stand on their own two feet is to help create an economic platform to stand on. The best way to preserve freedom and liberty is for all of us -- together -- to build a society in which everyone can share and no one is left behind. The best way up is on a ladder that all can climb.

Having heard all the old arguments before, some of my generation have moved beyond the old quarrels and the stale rhetoric and the worn out ideological disputes. We want to return to the principles and ideals which make our nation unique. And by that return, we believe that we can leave the debris of the past behind and all move forward together.

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