January 10, 2005
My fellow Missourians,
I am grateful for the confidence you have placed in me. I sought this office knowing that the generous and able support of my fellow citizens would help me shoulder the many grave responsibilities that accompany the honor of leading this great state.
It will be my great purpose to lead Missouri in a new direction. I promised change in our state capitol. Missourians mandated change in both the tone and the priorities of our state government. Our shared desire for a future of great opportunity and achievement for every Missourian demands that we heed their counsel. Change begins today, at this hour, in this place.
We stand in the shadow of Jefferson who believed that a society founded upon the rule of law and liberty was dependent upon public education and the diffusion of knowledge. He correctly extolled the virtues of learning when he stated that, â€œNo other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness.â€?
Missouriâ€™s Constitution declares that education must be our first commitment. Even if we were not legally bound, we would be morally bound to serve the children of our state and the families who have placed their confidence in us.
We must fulfill this obligation. We must transcend partisan division. We must meet Jeffersonâ€™s standard for enlightened government. We can no longer drift from the vision embraced by the Founders and our Constitution.
Working with your elected representatives, I will strive to ensure that every young Missourian has the education they deserve. Their future and our own depend upon it.
In the days ahead we must and will create an entrepreneurial climate where the spirit of free enterprise will flourish and aid the creation of good family supporting jobs. We must also remember that Missouriâ€™s future rests with the creativity and genius of the people – not in government programs.
Missourians deserve a government that promises no more than it can deliver and delivers everything it promises. Taxpayers deserve a government that harnesses technology to better serve the people. It is within our capacity to provide smaller and more responsible government.
In a government such as ours we have vigorous contests to determine who should lead. The recent election was no exception. Now we inaugurate a new government on a day that transcends any one individual or any one party.
Today, we begin the important task of working together to improve the lives of all Missourians. I commit all of my strength and energy to this good cause. As differing points of view compete, I encourage all to remember Jeffersonâ€™s admonition that â€˜every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.â€?
The government that we inaugurate today recommits itself to our shared principles. I stand before you today mindful of our shared aspiration for a government that better serves the people. We are united in our hope for a government that is frugal and wise. We remind ourselves that the values that spring from our soil and are cultivated in our homes and places of worship should be embraced rather than scorned.
The spirit and determination of the people to chart their own destiny is the greatest power for good in human affairs. The demands of the present must stand above the political habits of the past. When necessary, the needs of this hour have right to sweep aside the barriers that prevent Missourians from reaching their full potential.
We stand first among nations because of our hopefulness, our vision, and our desire for improvement. When we speak of the American dream, the dream that we describe centers not on the glories of the past, but on the possibilities of the future.
Over the next four years, we will be bold. We will be willing to experiment. We will not fear failure. We will bear setbacks with resolve and press forward with determined innovation. We will attack problems with the deliberation that accompanies this great responsibility and with the energy necessary to build a better Missouri.
Missouri can lead America in solving many of the problems that challenge our country. Our workers are ready, eager and able to meet the tests of the global economy. Missouriâ€™s teachers are dedicated to preparing our young people for a future of opportunity.
We are fortunate to have many valuable resources at our disposal, but our greatest resource has been, is, and always will be our people. In the measure that state government has fallen short, it has done so by setting itself apart from, and above, the wisdom, common sense, and values of the people. Government is not the author of progress, nor the first source of wisdom, nor the Creator of our freedom, nor the wellspring of the values of faith, family and freedom that make America the greatest nation on earth. Government is the peopleâ€™s tool. It should be the servant, not the master.
A statue on the north side of our beautiful Capitol commemorates the signing of the Louisiana Purchase. On this side, we are under the gaze of our third President whose vision secured the new territory and defined its character. From that territory, pioneers carved a state destined for greatness. Their optimism, hope and faith endure. We are the heirs of their labor. Let us also remember that we are guardians of their legacy.
I took the oath with my hand upon two Bibles. One is the Book I turn to each day. It will remind me of the solemn pledge I have made before God and my fellow citizens. The other is a Bible that Melanie and I will give to our son upon his birth. It will remind me that what we do today, tomorrow and across the next four years will help define the future opportunities of every Missouri child.
May God grant that in the days of prosperity and contentment, He will fill our hearts with praise and that in moments of trial, we will remember to seek His aid.
Together, we will chart a new course for our state. With your prayers, encouragement and support, we will succeed. May God bless Missouri and the United States of America.