Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office for the fourth time today, and then let the country know what it voted for and what it could look forward to in a second Obama administration. The speech hit all the right notes. The implementation, though, will take longer that the four years Obama has to complete it.
His calls for marriage equality and for legislation on climate change, while preserving entitlements, is a clarion call for progressives and proof that the country has turned a corner and moved away from the stultifying conservatism of the last 30 years. The United States will not be looking to become more religious, nor will it be demonizing gays and lesbians or attempting to make reproductive choices a matter of whimsy for the government instead of a collective decision made by people and their doctors. We will be paying attention to the world, but not trying to run it according to a naive ideology that says we can bring our form of democracy to everyone. And for the first time in our history we will have a health care system where all citizens not only can have care, but must have care because it's the right thing to do.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would never make a speech like this, and thank heaven they won't have the opportunity to do so. They would take us backwards. We are now moving forwards.
Obama called out the conservatives by fighting back against labeling people who use government services as "takers," a word the GOP used to little effect in the 2012 campaign. We need programs to help the poor and to try to educate every child and to make sure that the elderly get care when their resources have dwindled or disappeared. We need adjustments to the tax code and to close the dreaded loopholes in the code, and to use the revenue from those actions to strengthen the United States, not to reward the wealthy or corporations with more tax cuts or advantages.
During Obama's first term, the right was fond of saying that the great liberal realignment never occurred and that the only reason Obama was elected was because of the recession or the weakness of the Republican candidates. The Tea Party revolt of 2010 was supposedly the end of the "mistake."
What 2008 uncovered was cemented in 2012. The country's experiment with smaller government, massive income and resource inequality and a sense that large corporations and institutions were going to swamp the middle class is over. Yes, big money does support Democrats and Republicans alike, but that will be remedied, as will all of the issues that the GOP ignored for decades. We will have climate legislation, more revenue, marriage equality and immigration reform. It will take more than four years to accomplish these. The pace will ebb and flow. But they will be done.
And it all starts with today.
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