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Inaugural Advice
Hoover and FDR
January 16, 2009

President-elect Obama is getting no shortage of advice on everything from the words of his inaugural address to what to wear on the dais, and of course, how to deal with the multifarious problems facing the nation. It seems like every news organization and pundit is comparing the impending challenges to those faced by Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy.

"All we have to fear is fear itself."

"Ask not what you can do for your country."

"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Over the course of the past year we've asked JOURNAL viewers to offer up their own suggestions to the new president — from top priorities, such as how the economic downturn is effecting citizens, to what books he should have on his bedside table. We've also initiated a special project called Deepening the American Dream, in which we have asked our JOURNAL guests -- and our viewers -- to answer one question. "What is your vision of the future of the American Dream?" Explore these projects and add your own voice.

(Mouse over the top of the image to read the text. Click on a number to pause the slide show. )

National Priorities

In 2008 we asked visitors to the JOURNAL site to tell us what is of greatest concern to them this election season by adding entries to our interactive map. Citizens weighed in with their top priorities in social issues, justice, foreign affairs and defense, energy and the environment, government and the media.

Paul, from Boise, Idaho said: "It is time we demand BALANCE OF POWER action by our representatives!"

Explore viewer voices on national priorities here and add your own.

The Economy

The economic situation looms as a top priority for the incoming and outgoing administrations — and the world at large. Viewers had a multitude of concerns and questions for the new President.

Daniel from Massachusetts said: "Economically, the country is in far more trouble than even the news from Wall Street indicates. Not only are we running up tremendous debt, but we are also funding the day-to-day operation of the government, everything from tax rebates to the Iraq War, with loans from foreign creditors. How do these loans effect the status of the dollar as an international currency? How do they influence our foreign policy vis a vis the countries underwriting our economy (especially China)?"

>View more voices from around the nation in this slideshow and get additional coverage of the economic challenges facing Barack Obama.

Presidential Reading

When we asked viewers to tell us what books they hoped the new president would have in his or her library, we heard from tens of thousands! Their top picks ranged from common sense classics (Tom Paine...and Winne the Pooh) to in depth studies of politics and history (Jared Diamond's COLLAPSE: HOW SOCIETIES CHOOSE TO FAIL OR SUCCEED).

Take a visual tour of the most popular selections here.

>And then, add your own suggestions on the blog.

Deepening the American Dream

Explore the answers BILL MOYERS JOURNAL guests have given to our question "What is the future of the American Dream?"

Andrew J. Bacevich: "I think the core of my vision would be that we find ways to preserve that which is best about the past — the American inheritance."

Sarah Chayes: "I think the American Dream has to repose on ethics."

Nell Painter: "I would love it if every American felt a stake in society."

Orlando Patterson: "My vision of the American dream too is one in which it finally realizes the goal of genuine intercultural and interethnic relations in which people live with each other, but also are curious about each other's cultures, and interact with each other and intermarry with each other and love each other."

> Add your own voice on our Deepening the American Dream blog, read more about the Dream Project and see what other JOURNAL viewers have had to say.

Published January 16, 2009.

References and Reading:
I Do Solemnly Swear
You can relieve all previous inagurautions at the "I do Solemnly Swear" exhibit for the Library of Congress.

Here's a sample from William Howard Taft's March 4, 1909 address: "Personally, I have not the slightest race prejudice or feeling, and recognition of its existence only awakens in my heart a deeper sympathy for those who have to bear it or suffer from it, and I question the wisdom of a policy which is likely to increase it. Meantime, if nothing is done to prevent it, a better feeling between the negroes and the whites in the South will continue to grow, and more and more of the white people will come to realize that the future of the South is to be much benefited by the industrial and intellectual progress of the negro. The exercise of political franchises by those of this race who are intelligent and well to do will be acquiesced in, and the right to vote will be withheld only from the ignorant and irresponsible of both races."

Published January 16, 2009.

Also This Week:

Bill Moyers speaks with historian Simon Schama, who spent months traveling across America in the run-up to an historic election to discover what events in our nation's past can tell us about how we live today and what's in store for the future.

Faith, race, immigration, inequality — trace the roots of contemporary American issues with this review of JOURNAL presentations on air and online.

Citizens offer the president-elect advice for his big day and the big challenges ahead.

Find out more about the Born Again American film and project — and get back to basics by reviewing America's founding documents.

Tips on how to get started volunteering in your locale.

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