President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address today was all about ”we,” and ”we, the people,” about ”equality” and ”together.” It was a clear and straight forward statement by the re-elected president about his view of America, a liberal/progressive view in an inclusive America — a country for everyone.
The speech was elegant, inspiring, and passionate, given by someone who looked forward to his second term in the White House with renewed strength and great self-confidence, and it was the highlight of a most festive day in Washington, DC, where the crowds were not as large as four years ago, when almost two million people jammed The National Mall in spite of very chilly weather. But they were just as enthusiastic, clearly cherishing the moment that America’s first black president had been re-elected and handed the nation’s trust for another four years.
The president talked about America’s “never-ending journey” and that so much is remains to be done.
”Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people…This is our generation’s ask – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life and Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.
The speech was an unabashed re-affirmation of Obama’s basic liberal political philosophy, saying that ”preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
He was full of hope and faith in America, if the nation stuck together:
“America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it—so long as we seize it together.”
He talked about equal pay for women, equal treatment for gays, right to vote for everyone, about the importance of social security, Medicare and Medicaid, the right of immigrants, and about gun control, without mentioning the word but referring to the ”quite lanes of Newtown” and keeping the nation’s children ”safe from harm.”
“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 the caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
Obama’s second inaugural address was free of political attacks and party politics. It contained no direct attacks on the Republicans, but, on the other hand, one could interpret the whole speech as Obama putting down his marker, that this is what he believes in, this is his America, and this is what he is going to fight for during his second term.
The details in his political program will come in his State of the Union address to Congress on February 12. That will also likely mark the continuation of Washington’s political battle. Will that fight be as merciless as before today’s inauguration? Probably, and maybe even more so… But, at least it is now totally clear where Barack Obama stands, and that feels liberating.