Last Updated: Mon, Jan 21, 2013 18:00 hrs

's senior managing editor for U.S. news and co-author of a book on the Constitution's role in American life:


From the same podium where President Obama stood today, Ronald Reagan famously said that in the present crisis government is not the solution, government is the problem. Three decades on, emerging from another, even deeper crisis, Obama said government is, at least part of the solution.

Americans remain skeptical of central authority and have never succumbed to the fiction that government is the total solution, he said.

"But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," Obama said.

"For the American people can no more meet the demands of today's world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we'll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people."

Perhaps it is the ultimate sign of the end of the Reagan era that a president who uses a phrase like "collective action" could be re-elected.

— Michael Oreskes — Twitter http://twitter.com/MichaelOreskes


Inauguration Watch follows the events of President Barack Obama's second inaugural. Look for short items and photos throughout the day.

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