The following sentence of Joe Biden’s inauguration speech immediately caught my attention:
But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people who seek a more perfect union.
Alarm bells started to ring in this teacher´s head because normally you wouldn´t say “depends on we” but: “depends on us”. Then I realized it was done on purpose to evoke the beginning of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union”
This preamble or introduction of the U.S. Constitution summarizes the who, why and what:
– who is adopting this Constitution: “We the People of the United States”,
– why it is being adopted: “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,”
– what is being adopted: “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
All throughout Joe Biden´s speech* this preamble pops into memory. Let´s have a look at the different parts (words in white are parts of the preamble, Biden´s words are in italics):
form a more perfect Union: Unity is the central theme of Biden´s speech. Here are just two of the countless examples where unity is called for
And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.
uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the foes we face (nice alliteration)
Another remarkable phrase uses the opposite of union: Disagreement must not lead to disunion
establish Justice: The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.
insure domestic Tranquility: And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.
And here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.
provide for the common defence: I will defend the Constitution. I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America
promote the general Welfare: We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward, reward work, and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.
secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity: That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebears, one another and generations to follow.
My dear reader, this comparison is not exhaustive in order not to bore you 😉 but it shows that the inauguration speech nicely covers all the points of the Constitution´s preamble.
*) You can find the complete text in this link https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/20/us/politics/biden-inauguration-speech-transcript.html