In 1933, FranklinD. Roosevelt's inauguration address spoke of fearlessness in the face of unprecedented and dire economic adversity; four years later, his inauguration address laid out the framework for his new liberal order before the nation. President Barack Obama's address, with striking similarity, on the 21st of January beneath the backdrop of Capitol Hill has arguably been the most liberal address since.
Obama, evidently emboldened by the election victory in November last year, was unapologetic in his progression agenda. In perhaps the most memorable line of the night, Obama referenced Stonewall, the gay night club in Greenwich Village, which signified the start of the gay rights movement following a clash between police officers and protestors.
The issue of climate change was addressed with Obama declaring that to ignore the threat of climate change would be to "betray our children and future generations." The President also reminded the nation that the inequality of wealth that ripples throughout the nation is one of the biggest moral problems of this era, and that dealing with this problem is of the greatest importance for his administration.
On the stalemate that has seemingly claimed the federal government, Obama appealed for congressional leaders to make decisions, to "act knowing that our work will be imperfect." Also, Obama defended the social safety net, highlighting its importance throughout the current economic malaise and Hurricane Sandy.
However, what emerged, and most strikingly, from the address was a president who had found a new confidence and a rhetoric that was politically precise, firm and bold. Although not as rousing as other speeches on the steps of Capitol Hill, - Lincoln's second inauguration address or Martin Luther King's address nearly a century later come to mind - if the speech is followed through by action it will cement itself to be one of the most memorable in modern history.
Obama this time around is more adept to the challenges that face the modern President. Though he may not posses to power to single-handedly change national policy, he does bear the capacity to change direction of the nation. The President's second inauguration address reminds us of this.
Here is a man that has earned the right to change to change this direction. Whether it his administrations legislative success in the face of a hostile congress, or that he became only the fifth President in history to be elected twice with the majority of the popular vote, or the sweeping demographic change that undoubtedly are more in toe with Democratic values than that of Republican.
Obama represents the new America. He demonstrates that the ascendency of the minorities - the youth, Hispanics, college-educate women - are not the future but, indeed are the present. The president has found and forged a new liberal majority, marking the end of the Reagan alignment that has defined American politics for the past 30 years.
Whether Obama's legacy is as profound as Franklin D. Roosevelt is yet to be seen, however, in signifying and forming this cultural shift there is little doubt that Obama has defined our generation.
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