President Obama capped off his historic reelection with his second inaugural address on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. During his 20-minute address, he spoke about the founding principles of this nation and reminded us that “these truths may be self-evident but they are not self fulfilling.” According to him, the job of government is to take those principles set forth in America’s founding documents and apply them to the realities of today.
In making that connection between America’s founding and today’s reality, the president argued that “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” must be rejected. Commenting directly against the Republican push to slash entitlements, and reappropriating the conservative label for Obama supporters, the president stated that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security “do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
Additionally, President Obama went on the offensive during this speech by laying out a more liberal agenda than he had set forth during his first term.
In 2008, Obama entered the White House under the banner of hope and change. While indeed much has changed in his first four years, some things have remained constant. This includes a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, a reality which is key in the President’s “legacy making” over the next two years. The GOP is using the President’s address as a big “I told you so” to the nation, as they’ve been arguing since 2008 that Barack Obama is a big-spending liberal who has been masquerading as a moderate.
Obama’s second inaugural, with its decidedly ideological outline, would appear to confirm this. The only problem with this Republican narrative is that the vast majority who voted for the President already knew this about him. Though President Obama’s second-term agenda will be set more clearly during his State of the Union address, one thing is for certain: Republicans in the House of Representatives are determined to stand in his way. The tone of the address may have been different, and the emphasis on entitlements, marriage rights, and climate change may have been notable, but it is better to expect more of the same gridlock and inaction in Washington.