Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Fascinating. President Obama mentioned our Constitution in the first paragraph of his inaugural address, but in the same paragraph quoted from the Declaration of Independence, noting that we "articulated in a declaration" the following words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Fascinating because he mentioned a document he did not quote from (Constitution), quoted from another he did not name and then focused his speech on equality, progressiveness, togetherness and collectivism rather than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

He co-opted what worked for him and sprang off from there.

Conservatives, we have a lot to learn.

In pushing for collective action, he called on individual freedom: "But we have always understood that, when times change, so must we ... that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."

He wrapped a non-sequitur between two self-evident truths. "Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time."

It raises the question: If we define liberty differently for different people, how will we know if it's been taken away?

While Obama pushed his vision of America -- progressivism, togetherness and collective work -- we know from history that collective action often leads to stagnation, misappropriation of resources, a lack of imagination and no progress at all (Soviet Union).

Much of our progress in America has been made through innovation and imagination, from the ground up, from garages (Steve Jobs) and art studios (Walt Disney). No one in Washington could have created Mickey Mouse or the Apple computer. Yet together these companies are worth more than half a trillion dollars.

"Far from being under institutionalized," wrote New York Times Columnist David Brooks this week in his op-ed, "The Collective Turn," "we are bogged down with a bloated political system, a tangled tax code, a Byzantine legal code and a crushing debt."

He is right.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.