This article originally appeared in the New York Times.
In his first Inaugural Address, President Andrew Jackson said that the election that brought him to office “inscribes on the list of Executive duties, in characters too legible to be overlooked, the task of ‘reform.’” With this election, the American people told those of us they chose – for both houses and parties in Congress as well as myself – that now again the task is reform.
When our government tells us that the economy is healthy but demographers say that the employment rate among men of prime working age has fallen below where it was in 1940, we have an unacknowledged depression.
When we hear that we have an irreplaceable government-prescribed health care system but premium rates are soaring and state systems are collapsing, we have an unacknowledged and government-caused health care meltdown.
When terrorists strike cities around the nation and in numerous allied countries, we are in an unacknowledged war.
It is my duty and my intent to represent every American without exception – including the forgotten American. The Forgotten American is not defined by race or ethnicity, or gender or preference, or party or ballot cast last November … but by a sense that something has gone wrong, in our economy, in our relations with the world, in our government’s respect for work, family, faith, law, truth and the values that preserve, protect and define a free and great nation. And still the Forgotten American believes that what is wrong can be fixed, that if we in Washington do our part to reform what is not working here, America itself can do the rest. And that by all of us doing our parts, we can make America more prosperous for all, safer for all, more hopeful for all … that we can make America great again.