President Obama took a final glance at over 800,000 cheering Americans, paused for a moment and said “I want to take a look, one more time…I’m not going to see again.” The United States witnessed history and with his eyes tearing up, the president walked off the stage and was set to start his second term as the president of the United States.
As President Obama continued through his second inaugural address, the tone of his second term became clear. Unlike some other speeches, President Obama used his platform Monday afternoon to address topics that, at times, seemed to linger in the background of his first term agenda. There were many takeaways following the speech, and here are just a few.
1. Climate change will be a major issue over the next four years:
During President Obama’s speech, the president addressed climate change and the adverse effects that ignoring the problem could cause. While many on the far right continue to push false theories that climate change and global warming are “conspiracy theories” from the “liberal” media, the reality is that climate change is very real and action needs to be taken. President Obama made it a point to bring up the controversial topic, laying the foundation for future legislation over the next four years.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
2. The push for LGBT equality will only continue:
For the first time in an inaugural address, the LGBT community were brought up by name to the delight of over hundreds of thousands of screaming supporters. President Obama has made progress on LGBT rights over his first term, from repealing Don’t ask, Don’t tell, to openly favoring same-sex marriage. While the majority of Americans now support marriage equality, the push back from the Republican party and the far right shows no sign of slowing down and neither does the president.
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
3. President Obama will continue to fight for the “big three”:
One major difference between Democrats and Republicans is their idea of what the proper role of government should be. While Republicans claim to want a small government, they increase the size of its role when it fits their party’s ideology. The GOP push for a reduced role of government when it might limit the profits of large corporation or level the playing field between management and labor, but when they can increase government to attack women’s rights or increase military spending, they jump at the chance. With the economy still struggling, Republicans continue to fight for cuts to necessary programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Knowing the fight will continue, President Obama drew his line in the sand.
“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.”
4. Women will have a president who will fight for them:
The phrase “War on Women” was a popular one this past election cycle, with both sides of the argument letting their voice be heard. Whether it’s the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke feud or the talking heads on Fox News, the fight for women’s rights (pay equality, contraception) will surely continue during the president’s second term and President Obama seems up for the fight.
”It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.”
The next four years will prove to be a major fork in the road for the United States and President Obama is driving the car. With a divided congress in front of him, President Obama will have to decide which way the country is going and mold his own legacy.
To read the full transcript of President Obama’s inaugural address, visit the Boston Globe.