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Indiana Governor Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.
January 10, 2005
Mr. Chief Justice, Sen. Lugar, friends and neighbors:
How simple those words. How familiar these rituals. How natural we find the transfer of authority over the affairs of our state.
How routine, how undramatic the process has been. No shots were fired, no barricades were stormed, no blood was spilled. While in one country a half a world away, people must refight the contest for office after a subverted election, and, in another, people die daily at the hands of those who would kill to prevent a free election from ever being held in the first place.
It is not just the young people of Indiana, watching this ceremony in thousands of classrooms, who take all this for granted, as the natural state of human affairs. All of us in this most blessed of nations have long been bound by, in Lincoln's words, the mystic chords of memory, to the notion that power derives solely from the will of free and equal people, and that power passes peacefully and only by the consent of the governed.
We Hoosiers have marked this passage now forty-eight times before. No wonder we view it so matter-of-factly. But I venture to say that no one receiving the temporary tenancy of the people's leadership ever inherited it from a predecessor of greater good humor or warmth of spirit than the man who tenders it to me today. Governor Joe Kernan, thanks to you and Maggie on behalf of the grateful state you have served so long and so devotedly.
And now, we citizens of the nineteenth state commence our forty-ninth chapter together. For the governed to give their consent fully, they must know full well what they are agreeing to. I hope it is fair to say that the people of Indiana knew what they were choosing, and knew whom, as I have always seen it, they were hiring, when they met in council on November 2nd.
We offered ourselves as people of change. We urged our fellow citizens to aim higher, to expect more from our state government, but also from our schools, our businesses and, ultimately, from ourselves. We tried to hold up the prospect of an era in which we would leave behind old arguments for new solutions, provincialism for unified purpose, timidity and caution for boldness and even risk-taking, all with the goal of restoring our state as a place of prosperity and promise.
We said plainly what kind of change we would bring. The policies we will pursue have been in full view for months. When I leave here today I will sign executive orders making the first of those changes, effective immediately. On arrival at the people's house, I will personally deliver those of our proposals that require legislative approval to our new partners in the Indiana General Assembly.
And, eight days from tonight, I will propose, as a part of my State of the State presentation, approaches to the fiscal emergency in which we enter Chapter 49. We will waste no energy assigning blame for this crisis, and we must waste no time in addressing it. Our actions must be bold, because the problem is huge. They must touch every individual and interest, because they must be fair, and adequate to the challenge at hand.
If we overestimate the task, it means we have underestimated ourselves. When we think of the crises that free peoples before us have rallied to meet, we should gather confidence, and a sense of proportion, about the smaller assignment history has given us in our day. The job ahead may loom large to us, fortunate as we are to live in an age of unprecedented affluence and safety.
But this isn't Britain at Dunkirk. This isn't a newborn nation at Valley Forge. I do not face what Oliver Morton did when he stood on the Capitol steps and summoned a divided state to stand strongly for union and against slavery. When we note what our predecessors overcame in their day, we should be ashamed if we hesitate, sheepish if we pull up short.
When asked to explain America's victory over the dictators in World War II, Gen. George Marshall said, "We had a secret weapon. The best damned kids in the world." Against the relatively manageable obstacles we face, we have a weapon, and it's no secret. We have the quiet resilience of spirit the world has always associated with the term "Hoosier."
In the seats of honor at this ceremony are the VIPs of this weekend, people I met and came to know during my 16-month interview for the job I undertake today. They come from the largest of our cities, from the tiniest of our towns, and from the rural spaces in between. I love them as individuals, but I love equally the way in which they personify the qualities which, if called forth now, will surely carry us over our current difficulties and back to greatness as a state.
Kathy Bond's over there. Eking out a living carving lawn statues out in Modoc, she somehow found a way to take in a friend, stricken with fatal cancer, who had nowhere to go. Dr. Mark Graves is here from Evansville, where at his own expense he and his son devised a computer program that is enabling low-income patients to cut their drug costs from hundreds to a few dollars a month. And Rich Neuberg, who, when he's not organizing charity walks for breast cancer research, is giving discounts in his diner up in Knox for every dollar a customer spends at a local store. And Tom Anton, the longtime Purdue professor from Schererville, whom I tripped over enjoying his retirement by teaching a seventeen-year-old inner-city kid to read for the first time. Our greatest strengths reside where they always have.
I have often observed that, among our many special assets, Hoosiers are really good at rebuilding things. Engines, transmissions, airplanes, and buildings as large as the Pentagon - when something needs fixing, we just get about the chore.
And we are wired to help each other. We've been doing it for 188 years now. When trouble came, and it came often, our forefathers didn't use words like "sacrifice." And they certainly didn't divide into little groups and demand to be excused from taking part.
When there was storm damage to repair or a new barn to raise, everybody found a way to pitch in. Those who could handle a hammer or an axe, did; those who could afford to contribute a little extra for the materials, chipped in; those who could only bring a dish, brought it. Kids carried nails, old folks dispensed lemonade and sage advice, and nobody, nobody stayed home.
It's time to raise a new barn in Indiana, a new, stronger structure to house new tools and to make possible far richer future harvests. We will need the whole community to show up. As a government, we will do all that is possible to clear the path for new jobs and investment, but our businesses must take the risks from which alone new wealth comes.
We will spend the tax dollars of Hoosiers whenever possible inside our state, but our corporations must do likewise, and our universities must also use every opportunity to help the neighbors whose tax dollars support them.
Our utilities, granted special privileges by the nature of their product, must commit themselves to helping us attract new business. Those to whom life in Indiana has been the most kind must be willing to give back in accordance with their good fortune. And every interest group, of every kind and cause, must resolve to demand a little less, relent a little more often, if we are going to get the new barn up with the limited resources on hand.
Let's nobody sit home. Every parent who checks homework or reads to a child is lifting a bigger hammer than they may realize. Every person who volunteers at a free clinic, a food bank, a nursing home is putting a plank in place. Every young person who studies a little harder or signs up for a tougher course is driving a nail. Every citizen who stops smoking, or loses a few pounds, or starts managing his chronic disease with real diligence, is caulking a crack for the benefit of us all.
The young people of Indiana are watching us today, whether their classroom is tuned in or not. I know, from having met thousands of them, in their schools, at their games, and on the streets of their towns, that they love this state, and overwhelmingly they hope to make it their home as adults. Over and over, they have told me in identical words: "I want to stay, but…"
They are watching now to see whether we who are already adults will behave like it. Whether we have a fraction the fortitude our ancestors had in such abundance. Whether we will rebuild the barn, pay our debts, and leave the family business strong, so that they can carry it on and pay the bills when their turn comes.
When we meet again in eight days, I will lay out a design for our new community rebuilding project. I will suggest the roles each of us can undertake. I will urge that our purpose be bold, that if we err, we err on the side of action, of movement, of experiment. And that our aim be high. It's been said that every great achievement was first a dream; cathedrals are not brought into being by skeptics.
Neither are great barns.
En route to Philadelphia in 1776, to put his life, his fortune and his sacred honor all at risk, John Adams wrote in his diary that it was all well worth it because, he said "Great things are wanted to be done." And so with us. Our lives are not at risk. We face much toil and sweat, but no blood and, one hopes, no tears. But, in our day, Adams' excitement, and Churchill's iron resolve, should be our own: Great things are there to be done.
This is our moment. Our children are watching, and so too are those who came before us. They would not recognize our problems as daunting. They'd say "Wipe your nose. Let's get to work."
Good advice. I thank you for your presence today. For the love of our state that it demonstrates. For the confidence and the opportunity you have invested in me and in those who have stepped forward to join our reconstruction crew.
We know our assignment; we will spare no effort; we ask only that you join us, each in your own best way, in rebuilding an edifice of excellence in which a great Hoosier future can be housed.
And now if you will excuse me, I have to get to work.