Crowds greater than at any second inauguration
Not the same enthusiasm but 700,000 people attend public events
The crowds were smaller and people less hopeful than four years ago, though the queues were still forming early, before 7am, at security check-points around the National Mall in Washington DC to see Barack Obama take his public oath of office.
Gone was the strong rhetoric of 2009 when 1.8 million people filled the Mall running from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument below the White House as the US public was swept away by Obama’s contagious optimism and pledges of change.
The historic moment of seeing the first black president of the United States had passed. People in the long queues yesterday were more resigned but eager for the president to be more aggressive with Republican leaders to push through his promised changes.
Despite the diminished optimism, the numbers turning out to see Obama, the 44th president of the United States, inaugurated for a second four-year term were greater than at any second inauguration of a president in recent history.
“It is a milestone not just for black Americans but for America,” said Big Eli Turner who missed Obama’s first inauguration but brought his family from New Jersey to see the second.
“There has definitely been change over the past four years and I am very satisfied and grateful that he has another four years,” he said as he queued to pass security to become one of the estimated 700,000 people attending the public events.
Arlene Webber, who travelled to the inauguration from Orlando, Florida, with her 22-year-old daughter, was pleased with the progress Obama made in his first term “because he came in to a mess”.
“He did the best he could but we want him at the helm to do more,” she says, citing healthcare and immigration reform, the fiscal deficit and foreign policy as the critical issues facing her president in the immediate future.
Erin Riles, a 21-year-old from Buffalo in New York but studying at Morgan State University in nearby Baltimore, Maryland, praised Obama for keeping financial aid alive for college students.
“I still believe it’s all about job placement, though our economy hasn’t gotten better – it’s not where it should be,” she said.
Steve Goldenberg, a 35-year-old “street photographer” from Washington DC, expressed frustration that Obama did not force through the change he had promised following his election in 2008.
“I just wish he would have been more aggressive in pushing his agenda,” he said.
“Frankly our political system is broken now; it has become so polarised. I mean there is a fight on against his plan for assault rifles – come on, that’s just dumb; he should be just going ahead and prohibiting sales of them.”
Lavon Fluker-Reed, a retired superintendent for a school district in Mississippi, believes the president will still deliver on his agenda during his second four years in the White House.