What’s old is new again

By Melissa Davlin

We spent part of the last month looking at political speeches given in Idaho throughout the state’s history. What we found surprised us. If you change names and minor details, many of the speeches are evergreen and could be given today.

Take this excerpt from a 1986 Ronald Reagan speech, given in Twin Falls:

“…I’d just like to say that people my age believe that it’s our duty to turn over to you young Americans the same freedom and opportunity that our parents and grandparents handed to us when it was our turn. And not only my generation but all those in here between my generation and yours, I think, feel the same way. There’ve been times—in fact just a few years ago-when it’s looked like we have failed someplace along the line and things have slipped. But we’ve always gotten it back on track, as we have it now, and it will be there when it’s your turn to take over. When we look at you, when we see your openness and your enthusiasm for America, for life itself, it gives us heart.”

That message of hope through national despair is mirrored in Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural address:

“These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.”

Reagan and Obama, men of different generations and backgrounds, differed in political philosophies. But the fundamental message in these speech excerpts is the same — and it’s timeless.

In the congressional and presidential speeches we looked at, other themes kept popping up: Self-sufficiency. States rights. Reverence for the constitution and the Founding Fathers.

The connections were so strong; they inspired a segment for our first show on Idaho political history and its recurring, defining themes. We hope you’ll watch.

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