It was with much warmth and no small amount of pride that I watched the ceremonial swearing in and second inaugural address of Barack Obama. The tradition of the inaugural address is typically more poetry than prose. "With malice toward none", "all we have to fear, "Ask not what your country can do". But there are few addresses that have transformed national discussion and remain in our political lexicon for generations.
There are some great passages from President Obama's speech. But the overwhelming virtue of the speech is his placing the struggle for equality within the context of the nature of America. For progressives of my era, our lifelong struggle has been to get that recognition from our government. That equality is the goal that can bind us together in a great national experience where all are included and none marginalized. We have a long way to go but this paragraph from President Obama yesterday gives me hope...
"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 believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."
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