By Alan Bean
Presidential inaugurations are designed to draw the nation back together after a season of partisan bloodletting. As Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural address, conservative jurists like Antonin Scalia and Texas Senator John Cornyn looked on grim-faced. Democracy is a team sport in which the other side often wins. When you lose you suck it up, adjust your game plan, and get ready for the next game.
Obama has often been compared to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., the two Americans most closely associated with the principle of racial equality. Like Lincoln and King, Obama wields the familiar cadences of our American civil religion in an effort to summon the better angels of our national nature, or at least the best angels on offer at the moment. Heralds of a new tomorrow, if they are wise, remind us of the journey we have been on and, in so doing, redefine the significance of that journey. Remember who you are. Remember who we are. We may have wandered into strange and dangerous valleys, but we were created for higher ground! (more…)