January 21st 2013 – The Second Inauguration of President Obama
Today, as several inches fell in Leeds, creating a white slushy blanket which we only experience every few years, in a icy Washington D.C. the world watched an event that only happens once every four years; the inauguration of their president.
I was looking forward to returning home from work in the winter darkness to my new cosy flat and watching Obama’s speech and the festivities unfold.
He spoke, as expected, with authority and the voice of liberal and pragmatic reason in today’s modern world. In his short at times abstract speech, which in true politician fashion, he touched on the key issues the United States, as the leader of the western world faces in the future. He focused on climate change, national debt, gay marriage, rights for immigrants (big voting demographic!) equality for all. The spectacle of millions of people on the mall in Washington all pointing inwards towards one strong leader protected by discrete but evident bullet proof screens; a constant reminder of the reality that he is wanted dead by many for the views he expresses, and lives in a nation perpetuated with gun violence.
As Beyonce sang an undeniably impressive rendition of the American national anthem, I was wowed by the spectacle of the crowds, the flags, the values, the freedom…the greatest nation on earth. That being clearly from my American accultured existence which has glorified the nation I’ve watched on TV in parallel worlds since I could comprehend. I know this makes my viewpoint biased and that I see the reality through tinted glasses. However, with all of my years of education, learning, inquitiveness, I have to endorse wholeheartedly the power of that one man, who in my opinion is the greatest world leader I have had the pleasure to watch on the global stage.
The next step is a female president, so a first ‘husband’ can take a back seat.
Undeniably, Obama is gaining momentum, power, authority and confidence. It is great to be able to watch him flourish and grow into a roll which he is moulding and crafting to his world view and that of so many he influences. He has a battle on his hands fighting against a Republican congress, however, he has to push the Medicare improvements, the debt recovery, the gay rights agenda and the climate change policies. In the next four years, those issues are going to become heightened and pivotal and affect not just his own nation people but little insignificant me in a northern English city thousands of miles away..
He’s shown the power of his determination and conviction with the gun restriction legislation after the Newtown shootings of last month which seem to have set off a spate of constant shootings in a variety of states. Every few days headlines are peppered with another school shooting, so much so that they’re now starting to no longer make the headlines. Ultimately, as Obama recognises the sources of the issue need to be tackled; namely the mental health support for vulnerable young people and the prevalence of the gun culture in which they live which makes access to weapons so normal, easy and conclusive.
Like with the other issues Obama stated ‘we, the people’ (repetitively) should tackle together, the key will be his ability to target the root causes, understand the whole issue and plough forward with definitive action.
Most commentators believe that Obama’s speech was more concrete and ‘fighting’ than this first inauguration address; perhaps showing the development in the conviction of the individual.
one thing is certain, this young 24 year old in a nation far away will be watching his next steps very closely indeed, and hoping that he shows the strength of conviction he demonstrated in his inaugural speech..