Monday, December 12, 2011

#346 / Osawatomie

As with virtually all the postings I make, you can get the website reference for the images I have used by simply clicking on the image. On the left, President Barack Obama makes a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas on December 6, 2011. On the right, President Theodore Roosevelt makes a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas on August 31, 1910.

101 years, more or less, separate these speeches, but in many ways not so much has changed.

The text of President Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" speech can be read by clicking this link. The written text of President Obama's speech is here, and a video presentation of President Obama's speech is available here, on the Obama for America website.

There is no doubt that President Obama intended his speech to refer to and incorporate the main thrust of the speech made by President Roosevelt. President Obama didn't just happen to be in Osawatomie when he made his recent speech. He came to Osawatomie in order to make the speech, to remind us of what Roosevelt said.

And here is what Roosevelt said:

  • Quoting Abraham Lincoln: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
  • At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will.
  • I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.
  • Our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics.
  • I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.
  • Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation. Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.
  • The right to regulate the use of wealth in the public interest is universally admitted.
  • If our political institutions were perfect, they would absolutely prevent the political domination of money in any part of our affairs.
Next year, we find out whether Roosevelt's vision has resonance in our politics today. I hope it does!


  1. I am so glad to hear Obama entering a populist phase. We can hold his words and reflect them back to him, as did the 10,000 protestors who surrounded the White House and held signs reminding Obama of his pledge to free us of our dependence on oil, thus bringing a halt to the horrors of the transcontinental shale oil pipeline that would have brought degradation to our climate.


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