Will Obama's Progressive, Liberal Speech Motivate Americans?
President Barack Obama's second inaugural speech on Monday gave lawmakers, pundits and Americans a glimpse of what his second term may look like, but some are asking if his references to a more progressive, liberal America will motivate the public to inspire Washington to get along.
It may not be known for decades if the 19 minute, 2,114 word speech will be recorded as one of the most inspiring of all time, however the president used one paragraph in particular to highlight what he had done and what he wants to do in his second term.
"It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. 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. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. 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. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."
His specific references to equal pay for woman and his evolving support of gay marriage were most likely intended to remind those groups (who supported him in overwhelming numbers) why they need to stay committed to his cause. But in the latter half of his speech, the themes of immigration reform, gun control and climate change seemed designed as an attempt to give Americans a preview of the coming months.
Columnist and Fox News Contributor Charles Krauthammer said he felt the speech has signaled an end to the low-tax, limited government philosophy of Ronald Reagan and introduced Americans to a government relegated to growing social programs and skyscraper debt ceilings.
"I thought it was an amazing speech, and historically very important," Krauthammer remarked on Fox News on Monday. "This was really Obama unbound. And I think what's most interesting is that Obama basically is declaring the end of Reaganism."
Reagan's 1981 speech was noted for its infamous line noting that America's ills lay in big government. "This speech today was an ode to big government. It was a hymn to big government," said Krauthammer.
More interesting is how some liberal analysis viewed the speech. Kirsten Powers, a Daily Beast columnist and Fox News political analyst, tweeted her thoughts on whether the speech was "liberal" enough on Tuesday morning. "I slept on it & I still disagree with everyone in the media (left and right) that Obama gave a major 'progressive' inaugural address," Powers wrote. "A 'major progressive' speech would have mentioned a single payer health care system."
Another tweet said, "Believing in global warming, gun control and gay rights are mainstream Democratic Party views – any Democrat would say those things."
But it the president's objective was to appease his liberal base, he may have done so at the expense of building any type of relationship with Republicans if he expects to pass any of the three major issues (immigration reform, gun control, climate change) in his second term.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who lost to Obama in 2008, said what many of his GOP colleagues may have thought. "I would have liked to see a little more on outreach and working together," said McCain. "There was not, as I've seen in other inaugural speeches, 'I want to work with my colleagues.'"