On Monday, our first black president swore the oath of inauguration for a second time before a massive audience of more than 1 million people on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol.
This year, the public inauguration ceremony happened to fall on the same day as the national holiday celebrating the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Allow me to make an ironic understatement: it was kind of a big deal.
The spotless, marble-white Capitol building wreathed in large red, white and blue American flags looked out over a sea of cheering men and women waving hand-held flags.
That sea lapped at the steps like a patriotic ocean, waiting to see the representatives of its government observe a time-honored tradition.
And while the weather may have been frosty, everyone looked happy—so happy to be in America, so proud to call themselves Americans and so filled with hope for the future.
Preceding the swearing of the oath administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, President Obama delivered an emotionally rousing speech.
The theme of the inauguration was “Faith in America’s Future,” and it was clear from the contents of his speech that Obama sees that future—at least the next four years of it, anyway—as being extremely progressive.
While he acknowledged that not all of society’s problems can be solved with more government, he pointed out that travel and commerce rely on government-built railroads and highways to function.
And when the natural world rises against us and destroys our homes and our lives through fire and flood, it’s our government that helps us pick up the pieces.
And if, as all do from time to time, we get sick and just can’t make it to work, we can rely on entitlement programs funded by our government to make sure that we can still buy groceries for our kids.
It seems like Obama was sending a message with his inaugural address, both to the American people and to his political opponents in Washington.
To the American people: the future is coming with all its obstacles; we have so much work to do, and the only way to get it done is by working together to expand the role of our government.
To those opposed to Obama’s approach to the future: get in line or get out of the way.
There are just too many complex problems that demand our attention right now (among them equal rights and climate change) to be bogged down in ideological debates for the next four years.
If we let even one more year pass without doing something to provide equal protection under the law to all citizens of this country or to seriously curb our carbon emissions, we will be doing grievous harm to not only ourselves, but also to our children.
Barack Obama has already ensured that he will be a part of America’s history—his guidance of the country through the Great Recession and his work on healthcare reform guarantee that.
Obama has been good President—he’s been a force for calm and reason through a tough four years. I can’t imagine a more suitable man to lead our country into the future.