Today President Obama took the ceremonial oath of office to begin his second term as President of the United States. The highlight of the day was President Obama’s second inaugural address, which focused mostly on themes of unity and progress. A full video and summary of President Obama’s address can be seen below. A full text of the address can be seen here.
President Obama began by reflecting on the nation’s founding, saying that what binds the nation together is not the “colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origin of our names,” but instead the idea articulated in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The President said that today the country continues on the “never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.”
Obama then reflected on the country’s past struggles. Beginning with the Civil War, the President said that “we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.”
Coming back to the theme of unity, Obama stated that “together” the country modernized its economy and educational system. President Obama said that "together" we discovered that the free market only works when there are “rules to ensure competition and fair play.”
While re-affirming these principles, President Obama also called for the country to evolve to meet “new challenges.” Obama argued that “American 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.”
Obama challenged the country to end poverty and build up the middle class, saying that the country “cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and growing many barely make it.” President Obama said the country must make “hard choices” to reduce the cost of health care and the size of the deficit. At the same time, President Obama specifically singled out Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as programs that “do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.”
At the end of his speech, President Obama stated what he believes is necessary to further America’s journey towards its highest ideals. The President stressed equal pay for women, equality under the law for gays, voting rights, immigration reform, and higher employment as the keys the country’s progress. Referencing the Newtown shootings, President Obama stated that, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. “
The president promised to further the journey as part of his oath, and urged all Americans to strive to fulfill the same oath to the flag that is “not so different” from the oath he just took.