Editorial, Opinion

Obama highlights progressive agenda in inaugural speech

To a crowd of excited supporters, U.S. President Barack Obama rang in his second term with a speech that heartily embraced a progressive agenda based firmly on promoting equality and opportunity in our nation’s ethos — two concepts entirely fitting for the national holiday that served as a backdrop for the event, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“All men are created equal,” he reminded us in King-ly fashion before delving with the usual eloquence and élan into his plan to promote social and economic betterment over the course of the next four years.

Obama’s second inaugural address outlined a plan for the continued promotion of gay rights, racial and immigrant assimilation, gun and violence control, better education and an addressing of climate change.

With no re-election on the horizon this time (and no fear of critique or obsession with image — culprits of American political corruption), the President seemed able to endorse and push the more left-leaning agenda to which he aspires. The next four years, ostensibly, will be dedicated to promoting and pushing into action a much more controversial legislation than what we’ve seen during the last term. (In years past, Obama has been criticized for failing to incite the change he called for during the last election.)

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity,” Obama said before addressing the need to focus more national attention on the issue of climate change, and effectively summing up what the New York Times called Obama’s version of modern liberalism. In recalling for equality in the U.S., he is effectively endeavoring to reestablish national unity. Inequality is what hinders America from achieving whatever greatness of which it’s capable.

Deeming equality the American people’s “lasting birthright,” Obama called for Americans to embrace his cause with “solemn duty and awesome joy.”

“With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom,” he said.

And if his address wasn’t enough to make clear his progressive agenda, Obama’s choice of inaugural administrators was a pointed display of his attempt to embrace and promote social equality. His inaugural poet was Richard Blanco, who read his poem “One Today,” and who was the first immigrant, first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest to be the U.S. inaugural poet. Additionally, Sonia Sotomayor — the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice — became the first Hispanic to administer the oath of office.

We anticipate watching Obama’s plans unfold over the course of his next term in office. And we congratulate his staunch and passionate defense of social progress.

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