Today marks the turning of a new chapter in American history and American politics. It is a chapter that will find Americans proud again. We will remember what it is like to be respected in the world. We will remember what it is like to feel safe and secure once more. We will understand that we no longer have to be afraid of our ideals – that they can indeed be realized and enabled by a benevolent government. While it is too presumptive to say that we and the world will know peace, it is quite realistic to say that we now have a fighting chance.
Barack Obama’s 2400-word inauguration speech was stunningly poetic, the writers having an intimate understanding of the English language not possessed by Bush’s writers nor, unfortunately, ever even dreamt of by Bush himself. Obama successfully blended hope with non-fiction, something in which his predecessor wasn’t the least proficiant. By referencing none of the cliche phrases and happenings that have become commonplace in presidential speeches over the last four-fifths of a decade such as September 11, nor the expected reference to Martin Luther King, nor even an uttering of his own catch-phrase during the campaign of yes we can, Obama showed that he is a mature leader who doesn’t have to riff from the same tired script in order to send chills down the spines of his audiences.
What an audience he had today. Men, women and children of all races and ages braved the literally freezing cold to see history being made. They were there to hear President Obama claim proudly that we “are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers.” They were there to hear him proclaim that we “will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost.” And they were there to hear him make what was perhaps the most staggering departure from the path of the last eight years, that “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”
Obama has a large boat to turn around. The economy is still tanking. The powder keg that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israeli army killings in Gaza leaving at least 410 children and 98 women dead out of the overall death-toll of 1300, should be – nay, must be – the first foreign-affairs focus. Education, social security and healthcare have been neglected for too long, and must soon be patched if not rebuilt. Attacks on medical science such as vaccinations, new sciences such as stem cells as well as old sciences and histories such as evolution continue to chip away at whatever moral standings we have left abroad and must be dealt with soon, a promise Obama made in is speech regarding restoring science to its rightful place.
We must be asked to sacrifice. We must raise taxes, and we must do it quickly and smartly. We must be asked to sacrifice. We need to increase the gasoline tax so that the currently plummeting price of oil doesn’t decrease the race for more renewable and less pollution-causing alternatives to internal petroleum or ethanol combustion. We must be asked to sacrifice. We must not eliminate the capital gains tax, as those who would hurt so much as to go hungry from it are exempted anyway. We must be asked to sacrifice.
Humans are never content without struggle. With all of the looming problems facing us and our country, there doesn’t seem like a shortage of struggle any time soon. With our new administration, however, I think it’s safe to say that we’re no longer facing a losing battle.