Los mejores discursos inaugurales de la historia

En 2005, con motivo de la segunda toma de posesión de George W. Bush, el Washington Post publicó un artículo sobre los mejores y los peores discursos inaugurales de la historia. Hoy mostramos los 10 mejores discursos de la historia.

1. Discurso inaugural de Abraham Lincoln, 4 de marzo de 1865

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds”

2. Discurso inaugural de Franklin D. Roosevelt, 4 de marzo de 1933

«Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.»

3. Discurso inaugural de Theodore Roosevelt, 4 de marzo de 1905

«We wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness.»

4. Discurso inaugural de Ronald Reagan, 20 de enero de 1981

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

5. Discurso inaugural de Harry S. Truman, 20 de enero de 1949

«The supreme need of our time is for men to learn to live together in peace and harmony.»

6. Discurso inaugural de Abraham Lincoln, 4 de marzo de 1861

«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.«

7. Discurso inaugural de James A. Garfield, 4 de marzo de 1881

«The supremacy of the nation and its laws should be no longer a subject of debate.»

8. Discurso inaugural de Thomas Jefferson, 4 de març de 1801

«Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?«

9. Discurso inaugural de William Howard Taft, 4 de marzo de 1909

«We cannot permit the possible failure of justice, due to local prejudice in any State or municipal government.»

10. Discurso inaugural de John F. Kennedy, 20 de enero de 1961

«And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.»

Discurso inaugural de Bill Clinton, 1993

To renew America, we must be bold. We must do what no generation has had to do before.

«My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring, a spring reborn in the world’s oldest democracy that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. When our Founders boldly declared America’s independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change; not change for change’s sake but change to preserve America’s ideals: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Though we marched to the music of our time, our mission is timeless. Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be an American.

On behalf of our Nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America. And I thank the millions of men and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over depression, fascism, and communism.

Today, a generation raised in the shadows of the cold war assumes new responsibilities in a world warmed by the sunshine of freedom but threatened still by ancient hatreds and new plagues. Raised in unrivaled prosperity, we inherit an economy that is still the world’s strongest but is weakened by business failures, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and deep divisions among our own people.

When George Washington first took the oath I have just sworn to uphold, news traveled slowly across the land by horseback and across the ocean by boat. Now, the sights and sounds of this ceremony are broadcast instantaneously to billions around the world. Communications and commerce are global. Investment is mobile. Technology is almost magical. And ambition for a better life is now universal.

Raised in unrivaled prosperity, we inherit an economy that is still the world’s strongest but is weakened by business failures, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and deep divisions among our own people

We earn our livelihood in America today in peaceful competition with people all across the Earth. Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world. And the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy. This new world has already enriched the lives of millions of Americans who are able to compete and win in it. But when most people are working harder for less; when others cannot work at all; when the cost of health care devastates families and threatens to bankrupt our enterprises, great and small; when the fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead, we have not made change our friend.

We know we have to face hard truths and take strong steps, but we have not done so; instead, we have drifted. And that drifting has eroded our resources, fractured our economy, and shaken our confidence. Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us. From our Revolution to the Civil War, to the Great Depression, to the civil rights movement, our people have always mustered the determination to construct from these crises the pillars of our history. Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our Nation, we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow Americans, this is our time. Let us embrace it.

Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. And so today we pledge an end to the era of deadlock and drift, and a new season of American renewal has begun.

To renew America, we must be bold. We must do what no generation has had to do before. We must invest more in our own people, in their jobs, and in their future, and at the same time cut our massive debt. And we must do so in a world in which we must compete for every opportunity. It will not be easy. It will require sacrifice, but it can be done and done fairly, not choosing sacrifice for its own sake but for our own sake. We must provide for our Nation the way a family provides for its children.

To renew America, we must be bold. We must do what no generation has had to do before.

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.

To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. This beautiful Capital, like every capital since the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way. Americans deserve better. And in this city today there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of you here: Let us resolve to reform our politics so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our Government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called bold, persistent experimentation, a Government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays. Let us give this Capital back to the people to whom it belongs.

To renew America, we must meet challenges abroad as well as at home. There is no longer a clear division between what is foreign and what is domestic. The world economy, the world environment, the world AIDS crisis, the world arms race: they affect us all. Today, as an older order passes, the new world is more free but less stable. Communism’s collapse has called forth old animosities and new dangers. Clearly, America must continue to lead the world we did so much to make.

Americans deserve better. And in this city today there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of you here: Let us resolve to reform our politics so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people.

While America rebuilds at home, we will not shrink from the challenges nor fail to seize the opportunities of this new world. Together with our friends and allies, we will work to shape change, lest it engulf us. When our vital interests are challenged or the will and conscience of the international community is defied, we will act, with peaceful diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary. The brave Americans serving our Nation today in the Persian Gulf, in Somalia, and wherever else they stand are testament to our resolve. But our greatest strength is the power of our ideas, which are still new in many lands. Across the world we see them embraced, and we rejoice. Our hopes, our hearts, our hands are with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom. Their cause is America’s cause.

The American people have summoned the change we celebrate today. You have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus. You have cast your votes in historic numbers. And you have changed the face of Congress, the Presidency, and the political process itself. Yes, you, my fellow Americans, have forced the spring. Now we must do the work the season demands. To that work I now turn with all the authority of my office. I ask the Congress to join with me. But no President, no Congress, no Government can undertake this mission alone.

My fellow Americans, you, too, must play your part in our renewal. I challenge a new generation of young Americans to a season of service: to act on your idealism by helping troubled children, keeping company with those in need, reconnecting our torn communities. There is so much to be done; enough, indeed, for millions of others who are still young in spirit to give of themselves in service, too. In serving, we recognize a simple but powerful truth: We need each other, and we must care for one another.

Today we do more than celebrate America. We rededicate ourselves to the very idea of America, an idea born in revolution and renewed through two centuries of challenge; an idea tempered by the knowledge that, but for fate, we, the fortunate, and the unfortunate might have been each other; an idea ennobled by the faith that our Nation can summon from its myriad diversity the deepest measure of unity; an idea infused with the conviction that America’s long, heroic journey must go forever upward.

Our hopes, our hearts, our hands are with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom. Their cause is America’s cause.

And so, my fellow Americans, as we stand at the edge of the 21st century, let us begin anew with energy and hope, with faith and discipline. And let us work until our work is done. The Scripture says, «And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.» From this joyful mountaintop of celebration we hear a call to service in the valley. We have heard the trumpets. We have changed the guard. And now, each in our own way and with God’s help, we must answer the call.

Thank you, and God bless you all».

Discurso inaugural de Ronald Reagan, 1981


«In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.»

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O’Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens:

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick—professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, «We the people,» this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this «new beginning,» and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are not heroes, they just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they’re on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They’re individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

Now, I have used the words «they» and «their» in speaking of these heroes. I could say «you» and «your,» because I’m addressing the heroes of whom I speak—you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic «yes.» To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I’ve just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, «Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.»

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held, as you’ve been told, on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We’re told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, «My Pledge,» he had written these words: «America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.»

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.
God bless you, and thank you.

El discurso inaugural más corto de la historia

El 4 de marzo de 1793, en el Independence Hall de Filadelfia, George Washington tomó posesión de su cargo por segunda vez. Antes de jurar el cargo, se dirigió a los asistentes en el que es el discurso más corto de la historia: tiene solo 135 palabras.

¿Por qué tan corto? Para algunos historiadores, los motivos podrían ser el propio hecho de tener que volver a pasar por una ceremonia así. Washington preguntó a su gabinete si era necesario acudir. La brevedad y, especialmente, el tono del discurso hace pensar que refleja también los sentimientos de Washington por verse forzado a permanecer en el poder cuatro años más.

La segunda toma de posesión fue rápida, directa y nada pomposa. Tras jurar el cargo por segunda vez, volvió a su residencia. Este es el discurso:

Fellow Citizens:
I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.
Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.

Las primeras veces de la toma de posesión

Tras más de 200 años celebrando tomas de posesión, muchas cosas han cambiado. Siempre ha habido una primera vez para algo. En esta lista, vemos algunos de los cambios que se han ido produciendo a lo largo de los siglos:

  • George Washington fue el primer presidente en tomar posesión del cargo. Lo hizo en Nueva York.
  • George Washington también fue el primer presidente en tomar posesión del cargo en Filadelfia. Y el primero en hacerlo en dos ciudades.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt fue el primero en tomar posesión un 20 de enero. Y el último en hacerlo un 4 de marzo.
  • Obama será el primer presidente en jurar el cargo cuatro veces: dos en 2009 por un error y dos en 2013 al caer en domingo el 20 de enero. Ya lo comentamos en este post.
  • Thomas Jefferson fue el primer presidente en tomar posesión del cargo en el Capitolio.
  • Jefferson fue el primer y único presidente en llegar al Capitolio a pie.
  • La US Marine Band tocó por primera vez en una toma de posesión en la de Thomas Jefferson.
  • La primera vez que la Inauguration se celebró en las escalinatas del West Portico fue con Ronald Reagan.
  • El primer presidente en invitar a un poeta a su toma de posesión fue JFK.
  • El primer baile inaugural fue en la toma de posesión de James Madison.
  • La primera vez que participaron personas negras en el desfile de la toma de posesión fue en 1865 en la de Abraham Lincoln.
  • La primera vez que participaron representantes del movimiento LGTB en el desfile inaugural fue en la primera toma de posesión de Obama en 2009.
  • La primera toma de posesión emitida por radio a nivel nacional fue la de Calvin Coolidge.
  • La toma de posesión de Harry S. Truman fue la primera televisada.
  • La primera vez que se emitió en directo por streaming en internet una toma de posesión fue la de Bill Clinton en 1997.
  • La toma de posesión de William Howard Taft en 1909 fue la primera, de las ceremonias concebidas para exterior, en tener que celebrarse en el interior por las condiciones climatológicas adversas
  • Desde la toma de posesión de John Adams, ningún presidente del Tribunal Supremo ha faltado a la cita.
  • Un comité especial del Congreso con miembros de ambas cámaras organiza las tomas de posesión desde 1901.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt fue el primer y único presidente en dar su discurso inaugural desde la Casa Blanca.
  • El primer presidente en no asistir a la toma de posesión de su sucesor fue John Adams, que no fue a la de Jefferson.
  • En 1937 las tomas de posesión del presidente y vicepresidente tuvieron lugar en la misma ceremonia.
  • George Washington fue el primer presidente en añadir las palabras “So help me God” al juramento.
  • Franklin Pierce fue el primer y único presidente en prometer el cargo y no jurarlo.
  • William McKinley fue el primer presidente en dar su discurso después de tomar juramento.
  • Desde la toma de posesión de Eisenhower en 1953, se ofrece una comida en honor al Presidente en el Congreso.
  • Desde la segunda toma de posesión de Jefferson en 1805, tras la toma de posesión el presidente desfila hacia la Casa Blanca por la avenida de Pensilvania.

Hail to the Chief: el himno del presidente

El presidente de Estados Unidos tiene un himno propio: el “Hail to the Chief”. Saludos al jefe, aclamemos al jefe. El protocolo marca que cuando el presidente llegue a un acto, suene este himno. Una melodía conocida fuera y dentro de los Estados Unidos que muestra como pocas la esencia de la presidencia. Como no, este himno tiene su protagonismo en la toma de posesión.

Fíjate bien: el próximo 21 de enero, cuando se anuncie la llegada del presidente Obama a las escalinatas del Capitolio para ocupar su sitio, sonará este himno. Y lo hará porque el presidente ya es presidente. En enero de 2008, cuando Obama fue anunciado como último invitado en llegar a la toma de posesión no sonó. Aún no era presidente. Pero justo en cuanto terminó de jurar su cargo, cuando apenas había pronunciado “So help me God”, sonó el Hail to the Chief. Obama ya era presidente.

En muchas ocasiones, este himno está interpretado por “su” propia banda de música. La United States Marine Band que acompaña al presidente en los actos oficiales. De hecho, hubo cierta polémica al inicio del mandato de Obama porque el presidente decidió relajar el protocolo y usar la banda y el himno lo menos posible.

Cuando el Hail to the Chief suena para el presidente, suena un motivo introductorio tipo fanfarria, cuatro “ruffles and flourishes”. Son cuatro porque esta fanfarria se usa en otras ceremonias y dependiendo del grado de la persona en honor a la que suena, aumenta o disminuye su número. Así, suena la fanfarria, se anuncia al presidente y suenan las notas del Hail to the Chief.

Algunas fuentes indican que empezó a usarse de forma oficial para anunciar la presencia del presidente desde la presidencia de James K. Polk, tal y como indica el historiador William Seale: «Polk was not an impressive figure, so some announcement was necessary to avoid the embarrassment of his entering a crowded room unnoticed. At large affairs the band…rolled the drums as they played the march…and a way was cleared for the President.» En todo caso, no fue hasta el mandato de Truman en el que el Departamento de Defensa oficializó este homenaje al presidente.

«Polk was not an impressive figure, so some announcement was necessary to avoid the embarrassment of his entering a crowded room unnoticed. At large affairs the band…rolled the drums as they played the march…and a way was cleared for the President.»

El origen de la melodía se encuentra en la obra “The Lady of the Lake” de Sir Walter Scott, de gran éxito en el Reino Unido. Cuando la obra llegó a Nueva York en mayo de 1812, ya existían variaciones en el texto con “Hail to the Chief” como parte. Nuevas versiones que se popularizaron. Ese mismo año, el himno sonó en honor a George Washington y al fin de la guerra de 1812. En 1829 el presidente Jackson fue el primero en usarlo en su honor. Martin Van Buren y John Tyler lo usaron en sus tomas de posesión y sonó en la inauguración del canal de Chesapeake y Ohio a la que asisitó John Quincy Adams.

El himno tiene letra, aunque raramente se usa. Te recomiendo la versión de The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. La letra dice así:

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that’s our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

Pero no creas que el presidente es el único en tener un himno. El vicepresidente de Estados Unidos también lo tiene: el “Hail, Columbia”. De hecho, es una canción patriótica que fue considerada uno de los himnos no oficiales del país, hasta que en 1931 se adoptó el “The Star-Spangled Banner” como himno.

También conocido como “The President’s March”, se usó en la primera toma de posesión de George Washington en Nueva York en 1789. El himno fue compuesto por Philip Phile y actualmente sirve con el mismo propósito que el Hail to the Chief para el vicepresidente. También va precedido por cuatro “ruffles and flourishes” y podrás ver como suena en cuanto el vicepresidente jura el cargo.

La toma de posesión de William Henry Harrison

La toma de posesión del presidente de Estados Unidos no es solo pompa y circunstancia: el discurso inaugural es, seguramente, el gran momento de la ceremonia. Sin duda, el que tiene una mayor relevancia política. Tras 56 discursos inaugurales ha habido todo tipo de discursos. Cortos, largos, memorables… Como el de William Henry Harrison.

Harrison fue el noveno presidente de los Estados Unidos. Hasta la elección de Reagan, el más viejo en acceder a la presidencia y, pese a su edad, 68 años, el presidente que dio el discurso de inauguración más largo de la historia. El presidente recién juramentado se dirigió a la audiencia y habló durante algo más de una hora y 45 minutos. Aunque el discurso había sido ya editado para acortar su duración.

La inauguración de Harrison tuvo lugar en las escalinatas orientales del Capitolio, el East Portico, el 4 de marzo de 1841, en Washington D.C. Roger B. Taney, presidente del Tribunal Supremo, administró el juramento. Ese fue un día húmedo y frío en la capital de Estados Unidos. Harrison estuvo uno hora y 45 minutos hablando sin sombrero o abrigo.

«Organized associations of citizens requiring compliance with their wishes too much resemble the recommendations of Athens to her allies» Discurso inaugural de William Henry Harrison

Harrison batió otro récord, no solo el relacionado con la longitud de su discurso. También es el presidente que ha tenido un mandato más corto. Al 30º día de su mandato, falleció en la Casa Blanca por las complicaciones de una neumonía que contrajo días después de la toma de posesión. Fue el primer presidente en morir en el cargo.

Se cree que Harrison enfermó por culpa del mal tiempo en la ceremonia de toma de posesión, el poco desarrollo de la medicina en la época contribuyó a generalizar esa idea. Sin embargo, Harrison contrajo la neumonía que le mató más de tres semanas después de la toma de posesión.

Los tratamientos que le aplicaron al presidente fueron incluso peores que la enfermedad, y murió días más tarde, en la madrugada del 4 de abril. La brevedad de su mandato contrastó con la longitud de su discurso.

PD: para el Washington Post, el discurso de Harrison fue uno de los peores de la historia. Según el rotativo, fue laaaaaaaargo, pomposo, laberíntico y, en el fondo, vacío. Algo así como un discurso de abuelo cebolleta que dice saberlo todo y nunca se calla.

La vigésima enmienda

El 21 de enero, a mediodía, Obama jurará su cargo como presidente de Estados Unidos. Será su segunda y última vez. Y yo estaré ahí para verlo. ¿Por qué en enero? ¿Por qué dos meses y medio después de ganar las elecciones? La respuesta está en la vigésima enmienda de la constitución de Estados Unidos. La vigésima enmienda me lleva a Washington D.C.

Roosevelt (el segundo, FDR) fue el último presidente en tomar posesión de su cargo un 4 de marzo. Fue en 1933. La última toma de posesión que no se vió afectada por la vigésima enmienda. Esta planteaba reducir el tiempo entre la toma de posesión del presidente y los congresistas y las elecciones que les habían elegido. El 23 de enero de 1933 se ratificaba esta enmienda… y así hemos llegado hasta hoy.

La enmienda marca el inicio y el final de los mandatos. De hecho, su sección primera establece que el mandato del presidente expira a mediodía del 20 de enero. Justo en ese momento, el nuevo presidente -o el presidente elegido para un segundo mandato- inician el mandato tras tomar juramento.

Desde 1937 todas las tomas de posesión han sido así. Todas menos las que han caído en domingo. Como en esta ocasión, que será el lunes 21. Será la tercera vez que esto pase desde la aprobación de la vigésima enmienda. Los presidentes Eisenhower y Reagan, en 1957 y 1985 respectivamente, también tomaron posesión de sus segundos mandatos en lunes.

Así que por virtud de esta enmienda, durante las próximas semanas hablaremos mucho de la ceremonia más simbólica de la política estadounidense. La coronación republicana del hombre más poderoso del mundo. O lo que es lo mismo, por la enmienda, pasaremos frío. Mucho frío.