Obama Reaches Out to ‘Every American’ in Inauguration Speech

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after being sworn in during the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.   Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Obama delivered a rousing, very liberal speech to mark his second inauguration today, beginning with references to slavery — on Martin Luther King Day, no less — and continuing through the modern day and beyond, from climate change to gender equality, gay rights, and immigration.

"This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention," boomed Obama from the capitol. "My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together."

Obama harkened back to themes of the election in the name of the 47 percent. "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it," he said. "We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class."

The president continued, "The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

Looking forward, "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," Obama said, nodding to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. "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."

But the core of his remarks — the full transcript of which can be read here — recognized the fights that rage on. "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; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall," said Obama. "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."

"That is our generation's task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American."