Seizing the Moment, Obama’s Inaugural Address

Listening to the 2nd Inaugural address delivered by President Obama and the whole pageantry of the occasion, I was struck by two themes; we the people and fairness. His theme of “we the people’ included the issues of; keeping the promise of social security, medicare and medicaid; responding to global climate change; fairness in how we somehow respond to wage and income differences, gender, equality and immigration. For readers, here is the full, actual text of this speech. And thank your for inviting Myrlie Evers to speak. That was a treat.

Family and Dads
I am extremely proud that our country could elect an African-America to the office of the Presidency. By all accounts, President Obama is a good and faithful husband and involved and present father. Thank you, this is one of core issues that our nation, urban America in particular and minorities in urban areas are suffering from. There is an almost complete collapse of the family unit that raises and nourishes our children. I’m not going to criticize your for not golfing with politicians and spending time with your daughters. I think your priorities are just right here.  I’d like you to use your historic place and time to speak out on these issues. How about a national tour with Bill Cosby? We the people need your voice and leadership here.

Ending wars and our Veterans
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.”

“Our brave men and women in uniform tempered by the flames of battle are unmatched in skill and courage.”

“Our citizens seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.”

I want to thank you for ending the war in Iraq. I hope the plans to exit from Afghanistan work out. I do acknowledge and applaud your leadership here. I expect a lot more from you and from “we the people” here. We are now losing more of our vereran’s to suicide than to causalities in war. Too many of our veterans end up homeless. This is a national disgrace and one, “we the people,” at least this one expects more from you as Commander in Chief.

Equality and Fairness
Your call for fairness in pay for women, for gays in marriage and rights and in income distribution can only be taken so far by legislation. Pay for women will come about as more women work and lead. They are already doing this. I’m open to listening to ideas on this.

And with income equality, we need to level the playing field for small companies and entrepreneurs by changing the tax codes. Businesses provide jobs that pay the taxes that fund government programs that “we the people” need and call for.

A Call for Civic Responsibility
There were great calls for rights and fairness, but no call for responsibility, civic or otherwise. “We the people,” is really all of us, not just government action. That is what John F. Kennedy called for in 1961 and Martin Luther King, Jr. called for as well. We need your civic voice here.

Immigration
“But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.”

“We the people,” need someone and that means you as our national leader to step up and lead the way to provide a real, comprehensive immigration plan. Both the Republicans and Democrats in the Congress have passed the buck. And as Democrat, Harry Truman remarked, “the buck stops here.” It does indeed.

Energy
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition.  We must lead it.”

The transition we need is not to provide public funds for energy sources that are not yet competitive, but to encourage true transitional energy sources. I’d like to see our tax dollars going to basic science research and not trying to pick winning companies or energy sources. You can have a role on a transitional energy source, that of natural gas. And we do need your leadership here to help us navigate between the huge economic boom this represents and to provide for environmental protection at the same time. This is the essence of leadership.

And on climate change, I am doubtful there is anything we can do beyond what we are already doing that will make any difference. I’d l like to see you encourage India and China to adopt emission and other clean air and clean water standards that we have. That is real and will make a difference.

Schools and Infrastructure
“We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. Together we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.”

And let’s call a spade a spade. The program championed by President Bush, No Child Left Behind and has left a generation of kids who can only take tests. This has been a complete failure and your efforts did not help either. We have an entire generation of children who are not being prepared for life, to read or to know how to learn. We need your leadership here. We also need to change, fundamentally how public education is funded. Urban areas are always behind the eight-ball because their property values are in the tank and unlikely to ever rise. We also have generations of children entering school, ill prepared because their parents are not present or ill equipped themselves. See # 1 for more on this.

And we also have over $2.5 trillion dollars to invest in roads, bridges, transportation systems and waste waste treatment plants. Instead of trying to fix global warming, let’s fix these. Instead of trying to guarantee equal income somehow, invest in these. This will create a more equal playing field for everyone.

Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid
“But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

“These things, (speaking of Social Security,Medicare and Medicaid) do not weaken us, they strengthen us.”

Sorry, this is just a sound bite, not a plan. I told my wife, after your first election that I would change my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat if you adopted the ideas from YOUR OWN Debt Commission. You missed a historic opportunity the first time around. We have to solve this issue and again, your leadership is required. Please use some of your political capital to insist to Congress and to your Democratic colleagues to really fix these issues. My offer still stands regarding my party affiliation. It is that important to me, as one of “we the people.” We need real action, not rhetoric and this may mean standing up to both Republicans and Democrats.

Mr. President, you have 18-24 months to get things done and to leave a legacy for future generations to look up to. I’d like to refer you to a less known speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Drum Major Instinct.

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)”

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