Inauguration Kicks Off Obama’s Second Term
by The Milton Measure on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
While Milton students feverishly prepared for exams, Barack Obama entered his historic second and final term as President of the United States. He finds himself facing new struggles and with an opportunity to fulfill his promises to the country and to prove skeptics wrong.
The number of people that showed up to support the President in the front of the Capitol on January 21st was by no means small, but according to NPR, considerably less people attended the inauguration this year compared to the hopeful crowd in D.C. in 2009 to witness the inauguration of America’s first bi-racial president. Most people can still remember the excitement and promise that the future seemed to hold. Whether or not the country is better off now than it was then, the United States is in a different place, one demonstrated in the contrasts between the President’s two inaugural speeches.
Four years ago, President Obama had before him a much different America. The economic crisis was at its peak, the nation was at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Osama was still at large. At his first inauguration, Obama was viewed by some as a savior, and in his speech he played that role well. In his own words, he quoted the noted patriot Thomas Paine, declaring that “in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, [could] come forth to meet it,” a reference to the serious struggles at hand and his determination to confront them with help from the country and unity from the people.
In contrast, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few weeks ago, Obama stood at the podium and addressed the crowd with words focused on closing a chapter of struggle and moving forward together to open a new chapter of better times and personal responsibility. He stated, “This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending.” The President also frequently stressed “we, the people” and ideas of equality. Unlike in 2008, when the President sought the support of conservative Republicans and thus was tentative on certain issues, this year, Obama fearlessly asserted his own ideals and policies. He touched on the controversial issue of gay rights, proudly and loudly proclaiming, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”
In his 2009 speech, Obama touched on his desire to work collaboratively with Republicans. However, during his first term, partisanship caused huge congressional stagnation. Obama did not make any clear reference to his relationship with the opposite party in this recent inaugural, suggesting that his new approach might be more combative than collaborative. Likewise, in his former address, the President announced new environmental initiatives and was later criticized for not following through. However, Obama reassured the nation last month that he intended to carry out his previous promise to the country, stating, “[America] will respond to the threat of climate change,” for “failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Barack Obama declared that, for the next four years, he would continue supporting worldwide democracy and social equality and prioritize the ideals of the responsible middle class individual and the youth of America. He continues to push healthcare reform and promote a well-rounded economy. In the same way it was four years ago, Obama’s speech was full of promises. Whether these promises will be fulfilled within his next term is uncertain, but without another campaign ahead of him, the President has added a new aura of confidence and direction to the charisma, faith, and initiative in the voice of his speeches and brought a hopeful pride to the nation once again.
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