Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Obama Says Equality is Key for Progress

    Change we can believe in.

    The slogan of President Barack Obama’s first campaign matched the enthusiastic and ambitious nature of 2009’s inaugural address. The 44th president spoke of reinventing the economy, the school systems and the nation. His goals were high and so was his confidence.

    In the second inaugural address President Obama delivered on Jan. 21, his words were not as demanding. The struggles of the United States of America remain the same—the economy, international affairs and social justice—but the President pushed for a newer angle on the current solution: unity and equality.

    The two campaigns leading up to this election were divided, to put it lightly. The Presidential debates solidified the views of many already belonging to one side and the Democratic and Republican Conventions emerged as pep rallies for the respective parties. In Monday’s inaugural address, the President hinted at putting these barriers in the past and moving forward as a united country.

    “My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction.”

    President Obama presented the idea that the nation as a whole will not succeed with the victory of a few people. The echo of the unification of the country resonates in his words throughout the speech; that the United States will prevail only if it does in its entirety.

    The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

    “America’s possibilities are limitless,” he said. “For we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth, drive, diversity and openness, of endless capacity for risk and reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together.”

    The President still remains confident that the deep issues the United States is combating will be overcome. However, the words used to describe the path to victory four years ago have been replaced with a more subdued vocabulary.

    In the 2009 inaugural address the President used adamant language to communicate how the United States would begin the journey to victory. His call to action was very much focused on the physical processes.

    “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories,” he proclaimed. “And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”

    These words preceded positive, affirmative statements. “All this we can do. All this we will do.”

    President Obama’s faith in the country’s ability to complete these goals has not faltered. Instead, the focus of his solution emphasizes equal rights for each person in the United States.

    “…For our journey is not complete until our wives, mothers and daughters can earn an equal living to their efforts… 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…”

    This idea of equality is not confined to a legal sense.

    “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

    These examples relate well to the overall theme of the President’s speech. If the nation does not unite as an equal force, the country will not progress.

    “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”

    Seattle University’s Political Science Club hosted an event to help welcome Obama to another term as President. Club members rose early on their day off to listen to the President’s plans for the future. For the most part, they liked what they heard.

    “I really liked his focus on equal rights,” said Aly Girton, club president. “I think that it really narrowed his focus for the next four years. I think it put a lot of his supporters at ease.”
    “I was impressed by his speech,” said Tyler Hartje, a Political Science club member. “I’m excited and hopeful for what’s to come.”

    To exemplify the vision of the president, Richard Blanco was chosen to recite his original poem. At 44, Blanco is not only the youngest inaugural poet but also the first gay Latino chosen. His poem, “One Today,” emphasized the President’s message.

    “—all of us—/facing the stars/hope—a new constellation/waiting for us to map it/waiting for us to name it—together.”

    Sherilynn may be reached at [email protected]

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