12 Ways Obama Smacked Down the Tea Party and the Right in Inauguration Speech
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Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
7. Calling out the climate-change deniers with a call to action. In a speech as concise as the president’s second inaugural, the paragraph he devoted to climate change is significant. Not only did the president call for the U.S. to take the lead in battling climate change, in part through the development of new technologies, he also smacked down any doubters (such as, one might imagine, those inculcated to doubt by the many right-wing enterprises funded by energy barons Charles and David Koch):
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. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.
8. Spanish is the loving tongue, amigos. After a long jihad against Spanish-speaking Americans, right-wing Republicans are reaping their just rewards, left with the impossible task of electing their next president without Latino votes, or doing an about-face on their anti-immigrant policies. In the 2012 presidential election, Latino turnout was the highest it’s ever been, and nearly all of those Latinos voted for Barack Obama. They were rewarded by the sight of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court, conducting the oath of office ceremony for Vice President Joe Biden, as well as a poem presented by Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban immigrants, and a benediction, partly delivered in Spanish, by Luis Leon, a priest who came to the U.S. as a Cuban refugee.
And in his speech, Obama did not disappoint those who seek entry to America, whether from Latin America or elsewhere:
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
9. Making the moral, patriotic case for the social safety net and against poverty. As mentioned in item #4, Obama made a strong case for maintaining Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as government programs. Using the timeworn opening phrase of the Constitution’s preamble, he wove that case into a broader argument for collective action, care for the greater community and the fulfillment of the ideal of equality, as asserted in the Declaration of Independence:
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. 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. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.
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.