— President Clinton
“ I had a professor at Georgetown who taught me that America was the greatest country in human history because at critical times we had always believed in two simple ideas: one, that the future can be better than the present; and two, that each and every one of us has a personal, moral responsibility to make it so. ”
“ My father talked passionately at home about how our country remained too unequal and that government’s responsibility was to create equal, and ever-improving, opportunities for all, and that people’s responsibility was to make the most of those opportunities. ”
“ None of the changes I’m proposing are easy or politically convenient. It’s always more popular to promise the moon and leave the bill for after the next election or the election after that. That’s been true since our founding. George Washington grappled with this problem. He said, “Towards the payment of debts, there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; [and] no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.” He understood that dealing with the debt is — these are his words — “always a choice of difficulties.” But he also knew that public servants weren’t elected to do what was easy; they weren’t elected to do what was politically advantageous. It’s our responsibility to put country before party. It’s our responsibility to do what’s right for the future. ”
“ No single individual built America on their own. We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another. And members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities. ”
“ The preeminent mission of our new government is to give all Americans an opportunity—not a guarantee, but a real opportunity—to build better lives. ”
The fact is that today’s “Republican” Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word “Republican” has always been synonymous with the word “responsibility,” which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today’s whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.
Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance.”
“ Under modern conditions Government has a continuing responsibility to meet continuing problems, and that Government cannot take a holiday of a year, or a month, or even a day just because a few people are tired or frightened by the inescapable pace, fast pace, of this modern world in which we live. ”
“ If Congress — and in particular, the House Republicans — are not willing to make sure that we avoid default, then I think it’s fair to say that they would have to take responsibility for whatever problems arise in those payments. ”
“ Our Founders saw themselves in the light of posterity. We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child’s eyes wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world to come: the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all. It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing from our Government or from each other. Let us all take more responsibility not only for ourselves and our families but for our communities and our country. ”
January 20, 1993.
“ He’ll get sworn in, and then they’ll have the lunch and all the — you know, all the deal up there on Capitol Hill. And then he’ll come back and go through the inauguration and then he’ll walk in the Oval Office, and there will be a moment when the responsibilities of the President land squarely on his shoulders. ”
January 12, 2009.