In the American system built around that creed [“Give me liberty, or give me death.”], the monstrous original failing and contradiction was the institution of slavery. America paid for that with a civil war, followed by another century in which, finally–about the time of Obama’s childhood–segregation and discrimination began to give way to the equality and opportunities that Obama has now surfed to the presidency. Liberty prevailed.
The irony is that Obama arrives at the threshold of the White House steeped in ideas that subordinate individual freedom to the collective. In his campaign and his victory speech, Obama declares that America’s “timeless creed” is now, “yes, we can.” This is not a defense of liberty. It is a declaration so malleable and generic that it could have applied to anything from Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution to the Little Engine that Could.