The Inaugural Speech: Obama’s Silver Linings Playbook

A shot of the ceremonies.

Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty

A shot of the ceremonies.

Hope Sanders, Graphic Editor

The 2013 Inaugural speech was riveting, uplifting – and unimaginative. President Obama’s speechmakers have sung the same old tune of our nation’s foundation and history as a way of conjuring up patriotism in a country at odds with its government.

It is no secret that President Obama barely won the 2012 election, and his victory is in large part due to a weak and divided opposing party. His twenty minute speech attempted to conjure up the same spirit of American idealism and opportunity that he carried back in 2008. This time, though, Americans are in the disillusioned aftermath of a four-year term.

This is not to claim that President Obama’s first term was not progressive, not at all. Rather, it failed to live up to the hopes of the people.

When Barack Obama first ran for president, people got excited. Young people started to care about their government and their world and began to realize the impact they could make. Environmentalists heard only calls for fighting global warming just as homosexuals heard promise of legislative reform. But now, four years later, President Obama’s efforts on both parts have been feeble. He has faced an unrelenting opponent in Congress, which he subtly hinted at in his speech when he said that we cannot “substitute spectacle for politics.”

His call to action was nothing new or spectacular. Though to be fair, it is no easy job to get the people as riled up as they were in 2008. Calling back to the words “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” was a safe move: nothing new, nothing controversial.

Briefly, he addressed the issues with the enduring promise of change and reform. They were presented with much less gusto than in times past. When introducing his basic plans for confronting government and education reform, gay marriage, climate change, and ending the war on terror, President Obama made only the vaguest of promises with the knowledge that the Congress would fight him at every turn, and thus hamper any attempt at passing legislation.

President Obama knows that the next four years will solidify his place in history. Yes, he is the United States’ first black president. But will he be a great United States president? Undoubtedly he will be remembered, but now his concern is for what. The legacy of a president is finalized in the second term, his final act. Now that president Obama has secured his second term he must focus on leaving the office with a country stronger than before.

Now that the next four years are secured U.S. citizens cannot help but wonder, what happens next? More importantly, will we better off than we were eight years ago?