Obama signals more aggressive second term
“Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” he said. “We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.”
The Civil War and Civil Rights themes were woven through the ceremony. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Mr Obama last week delivered a major, pre-inaugural address on gun control, the issue that has dominated US politics since 20 children and six adults were massacred on December 14th. He only alluded to it yesterday, saying, “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.”
He directly challenged the Republican dogma that entitlement programmes must be slashed to reduce the deficit.
“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” he said.
“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 made this country great.”
Referring to the bitter political battles of his first term, Mr Obama put Republicans on notice that he will not tolerate such behaviour in his second term. “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness,” he said. “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.”