In monarchies, kings and queens use the first person plural. They are "we."
Judging from his inaugural address, President Barack Obama may give this practice a modern American liberal twist. He calls big government "we."
Obama's speech was a carefully crafted self-contradiction, with a beginning and end that could have been delivered by a conservative and a middle that envisioned government unleashed from constitutional restraints.
At the beginning, Obama celebrated the risk-taking, pioneering spirit, the ethic of individual initiative and self-reliance that made America great.
"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned," he said. "Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted, for those who prefer leisure over work or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."
At the end, Obama invoked God and freedom.
"Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end," he said, "that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
Who could argue with that?
Well, presumably the "nonbelievers" to whom Obama paid tribute in the heart of his speech.
It was in that part -- after he celebrated the risk-taking makers of things and before he saw God's grace shining down on the carriers-forth of freedom -- that Obama proposed a list of things "we" are going to do.
In fact, the defining passage of Obama's speech included a "we" in every sentence, and it was soon apparent that he was not talking about "We the People" but "we the government."
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