Despite demonstrating a crucial need for bipartisanship in Congress, President Obama managed to alienate half of the country by pushing an extremely liberal agenda in his second inauguration speech.
After a hard fought political campaign against Republican candidate Mitt Romney last fall, Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term as President of the United States. In front of a crowd of about a million people, the President delivered a short speech complete with historical references, vague promises to the middle class, and a pursuit to push all things socially and fiscally liberal into the forefront of the national conversation. Whether discussing tighter gun control or health care, it seemed that Obama would be approaching this second term with less tolerance for the shenanigans being pulled by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
As the President of the US and unofficial “leader of the free world”, it may be quite obvious that one cannot please everyone on every issue when in this position of power. It was a lesson that Obama had to learn the hard way during his first term as the high unemployment percentage oscillated and Congress took the US economy hostage. However, after the delivery of this particular speech, it seems that the President is approaching his second term with more of a, “I’ll run this country as I see fit” sort of attitude. For example, Obama is the first President to reference equal wages between genders as well as gay marriage as our generation’s task to achieve. While more than half of the country sees this as progress, there is a large chunk of the country that views these “proclamations” in a darker light.
Once the speech was delivered the outcry from both conservative and even moderate sources was heard immediately. By delivering this type of speech, President Obama managed to distance himself from his colleagues across the aisle. Wayne LaPierre, the executive Vice President of the NRA stated that Obama is “overstepping his authority” when is came to talk of gun control. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that “an era of Liberalism is back” when asked to comment on the speech. Even Democratic leaders thought that the President was leaning too much to the left as former California Congressman Dennis Cardoza commented.
The fact of the matter is that most of the country does not lean exclusively to the left or to the right. The middle class leans towards whichever candidate holds their best interests in mind. And as we have seen in elections past, this notion has been demonstrated by the uncertainty of swing states such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. If Obama publicly stated something like this during his recent campaign, he would have lost many of the moderates who were on the fence about these issues, potentially changing the outcome of the election. The last thing our country needs right now is an even bigger divide between Democrats and Republicans.
President Obama attempted to send a clear message through his second inauguration speech; this country will continue to move forward in spite of opposition from other politicians. He delivered his speech with an urgency to be a progressive nation because the United States simply can’t afford to watch idly as the developing world surpasses us in fields like science and technology. The president evoked emotion from the public by conjuring up images or the poor and struggling as well as merely mentioning the devastation that is now associated with the word “Newtown”. I think that President Obama took an event that should have unified our country and turned it into a “Liberals Only” celebration. As a left leaning moderate, I was even taken aback by the speech. If this speech is a glimpse into his vision of the next four years, then I hope President Obama is prepared to face a storm of opposition and headaches from his Conservative and Moderate colleagues.