John F. Kennedy has always been characterized as one of the greatest orators in the United States. Also, his Inaugural address of 1961 is considered as a success. Even rhetorical critics like Sam Meyer did acknowledge that Kennedys Inaugural speech was Kennedys product of convictions. As usual, just like any other president, Kennedys inaugural speech emphasized on the principals of governance and future optimism. Hence, his speech had invocations of the values of the American classical liberalism. That is in his speech, the precept of liberalism such as the belief that democracy is the best form of governance, peoples freedom of expression, the governances guard of abuse of power and assurance of individuals independence in economic activities are reflected. Hence, Kennedys speech tried to create a connection between the greatest past generation and future generation. In a ringing defense of American liberalism and his obligations as an American citizen and president, Kennedy called for the nation to complete the nations struggles of the 1950s.
During 1960, the U.S was gripped by the clamor for a national purpose. The cold war was rife, the material needs and comfort brought with it uncertainties regarding what and how the American were to do production. However, Kennedy, in his speech pledged to get his country moving. His intentions were motivated by the principles of liberalism other than just as a collective soul searching. Hence, his speech was a not only forceful but also persuasive regarding the situations at hand such as the escalating cold war. Most importantly is demand for the sacrifice and commitment from every American citizen. Moreover, through his speech, Kennedy crafted a vision of a public service that was inspiring to the entire generation of political and civic leaders. He announced an ambitious policy of defending the freedoms of every American.
Belief that Democracy is the Best Form of Government
Kennedy did speak of ideals like liberty and democracy. He was against the system of communism terming it as an iron tyranny that threatened the development of the world. Therefore, the nations such as the Soviet Union and its allies could neither be appeased nor be trusted thus they should never be approached with weakness. Therefore, Kennedy was ready to shield America and the world from the advances of communism while promoting liberty and democracy around the world, for it was the only suitable system of governance. In his speech, he also depicted the politics of life and death between the forces of democracy and freedom like the U.S. and the forces of dictatorship. Hence, Kennedys assertion that any nation know that with or without its support, America will pay any price and bear the burden of supporting a friend or opposing an enemy to ensure the survival and success of liberty, (Kennedy)"
Intellectual Freedom of Speech, Religion and Press
Basic perception of freedom of speech is also illustrated in Kennedys speech. In his speech, Kennedy quotes the bible to propel the liberalism values of freedom of speech that must resonate through the American Society. He says that every side of the American society must unite under the command of Isaiah with the purpose of undoing the heavy burdens and letting the oppressed go free. H4e continued to say that America should begin a new remembering that civility is never a sign of weakness or insincerity but always a subject to proof. Therefore, Americans should never negotiate out of fear and must never fear to negotiate. He also acknowledges that it is only a few generations that have bored the responsibility of defending the American freedom. Hence, under his leadership, everyone will have the opportunity to exercise devotion towards upholding the freedoms of speech, press and religion as the values and principles of the American society.
Minimal Government Supervision
In his famous phrase, ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country, (Kennedy 1961). Kennedy portrays the liberalism value of minimal government supervision on its citizens. Therefore, Kennedy asked the American citizens to lead their own country by exercising high standards and strength compounded with love. He concludes that God's blessings on the American soil are solely reflected on an individuals effort but not anyone or the government. Hence, Kennedy advocates for the spirit of an American independence through the principal of minimal government supervision.
State Guarding Its Citizens against Abuses
Also in his speech, Kennedy emphasized the need for the government to guard its citizens from abuses. He stated the need to explore and address the issues that divide America from the communist world. Moreover, that his government shall establish a world order, which ensures that the strong remain just and the weak are able to secure peace. He also pledged to break the bondage of mass miseries not for populist purposes but as a right.
In conclusion, Kennedys speech reflected basic precepts of liberalism. He touched on the principles of a democratic government, freedom of expression, press and religion, minimal government supervision and guarding the American citizens from abuse. Most importantly, Kennedy aimed at uniting the American public to a common cause.
Length of Inaugural Addresses - The American Presidency Project. (2016). Presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 23 October 2016, from http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/inaugurals.php
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