President Obama was sworn in for a second term on Martin Luther King’s holiday. Evoking the principles of Martin Luther King and the constitution, President Obama carved out what he believes is important for our country. In his inaugural speech, he highlighted the concept of “we the people”, reaffirming the principle of democracy. Relying on the words of the U.S. constitution, he stated that “our founding fathers gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.” And it is our duty to bridge the words of the U.S. constitution with our modern times. Some highlights of President Obama’s speech showing where he would like to take the country in the areas of gay rights, immigration reform, voting rights, health care, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are below:
- “A great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
- “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
- “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care…”
- “The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.”
- “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still;”
- “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.
- Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity;”
- “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law “
“We the people” enforces that we as a people also have an obligation. Over 55% of women voted for President Obama, over 90% of African Americans and he overwhelmingly won the Hispanic and Asian votes. He has a broad coalition of supporters. And these supporters of his dream for our country must be the dream keepers. We must do our job as “we the people” by educating, engaging, mobilizing and taking action when action is needed.
As a community organizer, President Obama knows the power of collective community outreach to people. He must call on the power of civic leaders, community leaders, civil rights leaders, women’s leaders, Hispanic leaders and many others to help the people be the voice and action to form a more perfect union. These non-elected leaders in the community must be the ones to come forward now and help the people to bring about the progressive change we need. We cannot rely on the divisive and dysfunctional leaders in our government to effectuate change. We must “make” them do the right thing.
I believe President Obama wants to do the right thing by our country. And we the people must be able to him help to do it.
To read President Obama’s second inauguration speech in its entirety, click here.