President Obama took the Oath of Office for his final time today in a ceremonial procedure in front of a watchful nation, laying out a fiercely progressive vision for his second term in office, embracing the liberal causes of climate change, gay equality, and gun control before an audience of hundreds of thousands of Americans, politicians and government officials.
President Obama threw in a head-fake to conservatives at the beginning of his speech, saying that "we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone," before saying that the American government must lead the way on clean energy and gun control, and that freedom isn't particularly worthwhile without collectivism.
"Preserving our individual liberties," the President said, "ultimately requires collective action."
President Obama defended big government welfare programs as enhancing American freedom, saying that things like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security "do not make us a nation of takers" but "free us to take the risks that make this country great."
In a surprising turn, the President aggressively laid out the issue he thinks might be the most important facing the country right now: global warming.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change," he said, "knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms."
Acknowledging the bankruptcies of many of his green-energy programs, President Obama said that "the path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult."
Huge cheers arose from the assembled masses of progressives when the President launched into the most left-wing and defiant part of the speech, speaking of how America's "journey" is not complete until the government enacts every single part of the progressive agenda, calling for employers to be forced to pay their employees equally, for gay marriage to be enshrined as a right, for voters to be able to vote in the easiest manner possible, to welcome all immigrants, and to roll back gun rights:
For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. 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; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. 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.
Today was unlike President Obama's first inauguration. There, he was light on policy and plans, and heavy on what he's good at: soaring, aspirational rhretoric. Today, President Obama took the fight to those who have opposed him, outlining policy goals that he kept largely hidden during his re-election campaign.
If conservatives are to deny this progressive policy program in President Obama's second term, they're going to have to lay out a positive agenda of their own. President Obama attacked conservative straw men today in his speech while at the same time claiming he's just as skeptical of central authority and collective action as the American Founding Fathers.
The national debt stood at $10.6 trillion on President Obama's first inauguration. It's now at $16.4 trillion.
The ceremonies of the day were closed with Beyoncé singing the national anthem.