Pure innovation is more gross than error.
My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.
I do not want a honeymoon with you. I want a good marriage. I want progress, and I want problemsolving which requires my best efforts and also your best efforts. I have no need to learn how Congress speaks for the people. As President, I intend to listen. But I also intend to listen to the people themselvesall the peopleas I promised last Friday. I want to be sure that we are all tuned in to the real voice of America.
In a political sense, there is one problem that currently underlies all of the others. That problem is making Government sufficiently responsive to the people. If we dont make government responsive to the people, we dont make it believable. And we must make government believable if we are to have a functioning democracy.
We have come tardily to the tremendous task of cleaning up our environment. We should have moved with similar zeal at least a decade ago. But no purpose is served by post-mortems. With visionary zeal but the greatest realism, we must now address ourselves to the vast problems that confront us.
A strong defense is the surest way to peace. Strength makes detente attainable. Weakness invites war, as my generationmy generationknows from four very bitter experiences. Just as Americas will for peace is second to none, so will Americas strength be second to none. We cannot rely on the forbearance of others to protect this Nation. The power and diversity of the Armed Forces, active Guard and Reserve, the resolve of our fellow citizens, the flexibility in our command to navigate international waters that remain troubled are all essential to our security.
I know well the coequal role of the Congress in our constitutional process. I love the House of Representatives. I revere the traditions of the Senate despite my too-short internship in that great body. As President, within the limits of basic principles, my motto toward the Congress is communication, conciliation, compromise, and cooperation.
Too often critics seem more intent on seeking new ways to alter Congress than to truly learn how it functions. They might well profit from the advice of Thomas Huxley, who said a century ago: Sit down before facts as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notionor you shall learn nothing.
If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one womanmy dear wifeas I begin this very difficult job.
I once told you that I am not a saint, and I hope never to see the day that I cannot admit having made a mistake. So I will close with another confession. Frequently, along the tortuous road of recent months from this chamber to the Presidents House, I protested that I was my own man. Now I realize that I was wrong. I am your man, for it was your carefully weighed confirmation that changed my occupation. The truth is I am the peoples man, for you acted in their name, and I accepted and began my new and solemn trust with a promise to serve all the people and do the best that I can for America.
I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference. I do believe, with all my heart and mind and spirit, that I, not as President but as a humble servant of God, will receive justice without mercy if I fail to show mercy.
America now is stumbling through the darkness of hatred and divisiveness. Our values, our principles, and our determination to succeed as a free and democratic people will give us a torch to light the way. And we will survive and become the strongernot only because of a patriotism that stands for love of country, but a patriotism that stands for love of people.