President Barack Obama: Second Term, Second ChanceBy Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Jan 22, 2013 - 10:05:34 AM
President asks a divided nation to come together
THE U.S. CAPITOL (FinalCall.com) - The cold early morning sun yielded to cold, solid cloud cover by midday when President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural address, Jan. 21 before a larger than expected audience in which he declared that “our never ending journey is not complete.”
Mr. Obama cited the need for prosperity for all citizens and called for protection of the social safety net that has sheltered the poor, elderly and needy. “Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” the president said in a relatively short, 18-minute address.
“We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class,” he said, repeating his presidential campaign calls that helped him win re-election.
Borrowing a metaphor from the Declaration of Independence, Mr. Obama reiterated the principle that all men are created equal. “For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on Earth.
“Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together,” the president continued.
His call for national unity was echoed throughout his remarks. “For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people,” he said.
Facing the likelihood of more budget cuts aimed at undoing the social safety net, Mr. Obama declared there should be no conflict between past obligations and future ambitions. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security “do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us,” he said.
“We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” Mr. Obama continued.
The president also promised to fight for policies to address the hotly contested climate change issue. The failure to confront climate change, he said, “would betray our children and future generations.” Mr. Obama’s focus on climate change was notable because he barely dealt with the issue in his first term and it was not a major campaign issue.
Wearing a black suit and a blue tie, the president took the Oath of Office with his hand on two Bibles held by First Lady Michelle Obama. One Bible belonged to former President Abraham Lincoln, and the other to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The public swearing in was held on the day the King Holiday was observed nationally. Mr. Obama took a private Oath in the White House Jan. 20 to conform to the Constitutional requirement that the new presidential term begin at noon Jan. 20 following the election.
The crowd, estimated at around 750,000 cheered “Obama! Obama!” and “Four more years!” when the president appeared on the jumbo-tron screens lining the National Mall.
Existing racial disparities must be eliminated if the president is to have a successful second term, according to the Rev. Jesse Jackson. “In those areas where the banks devastated the peoples’ homes with foreclosures, with sub-prime, predatory lending schemes need to be rebuilt,” the Rev. Jackson told The Final Call at the Capitol grounds. “There must be some plan to rebuild America. We’re rebuilding Iraq. We’re rebuilding Afghanistan. We must rebuild urban America.”
Mr. Obama emphasized a similar theme. “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” he said. “For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.
“We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”