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.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

— Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

You see, government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in people’s hearts or a sense of purpose in people’s lives.

— President of the United States George W. Bush, yesterday, August 23, 2002.

I think it’s phenomenally sad that our President feels that the various levels of government in the United States can’t give people hope or help them feel purpose in their daily lives. Can you imagine someone like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt uttering these words? To me, this is a mark of a failing on a truly overwhelming level, that where a President understands his role in helping the ordinary citizens of his country achieve their hopes and dreams, and feel that their existence has meaning.


you make a solid point. however with all of those presidents you mentioned - they all were made great by the country’s union against a common enemy, an enemy with a face. washington had the british, Lincoln had the confederacy (to which half the nation despised him), JFK - the communists and grenada, and FDR - nazi germany. GWB has terrorism, not a defined enemy but more of a construct. the task of rallying a nation against a known foe unites everyone, however to try and rally a nation against a construct (not unlike racism and the like) is much more difficult. but your point is important, the government should be the point of focus for all hope and purpose of america … i fear however that americans have become too individualized and centered on the self as the american way of life rather than on the words: “united we stand”

• Posted by: fliptop on Aug 25, 2002, 1:36 AM

While on one level it’s probably a good idea to engage Bush’s words as if they had a literal meaning (so as not to let him get away with this kind of rhetoric), it’s also important to recognize that this is all carefully constructed symbol-speak from his handlers, designed to promote the idea that small government is good.

• Posted by: xian on Aug 25, 2002, 3:36 PM

I can’t think of one single instance in my life where any government provided me hope or sense of purpose. I get those things from other social constructs - family, friends, etc. I’ve always had the view that government is Law & Order: their job is to prevent other people from messing with my Happiness. I think you’ll find that most of the guys who signed that document in 1776 held that government is more Stick than Carrot.

• Posted by: Stewart Vardaman on Aug 25, 2002, 5:37 PM

Actually, those words sound pretty much exactly like something that George Washington or Abraham Lincoln might have said - did you even read that quote from the declaration of independence? Governments are instituted among men to secure unalienable rights - not to give us hope or purpose in our lives; that’s up to every individual.

• Posted by: PLC on Aug 28, 2002, 4:56 PM

Stewart, if you were an African-American alive in the ’50s and ’60s you might be able to thing of one single instance in your life where government provided you hope, if not as sense of purpose.

• Posted by: xian on Sep 29, 2002, 7:30 PM
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