WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural address on Monday, saying the sturdy ideals of the nation's founders should guide Americans through the divisive issues of the day.
The president made a much stronger pitch to his Democratic Party base than he did in his first address four years ago as he called for action on climate change and immigration reform and defended social programs for the poor and elderly. The nation's first black president also said “our journey is not complete” on civil rights, specifically referencing gay marriage and equal pay for women.
America proved its resilience through an economic crisis and a decade of war, Obama said, and has “all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”
Speaking on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, with many of his political foes seated nearby, the nation's 44th president said the age-old debate about the role of government didn't have to be decided for all time but that progress requires action “in our time.”
“For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay,” the president said.
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”
Journey not complete
Obama, 51, delivered his public address to hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall a day after he was formally sworn in for his second term; he and Vice President Joe Biden repeated their oaths in Monday's ceremony.
Though the crowd didn't match the 1.8 million that attended his historic 2008 inauguration, roars of approval from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, about a mile away, greeted the president and performers Beyonce, who sang the national anthem, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor.
Dana Orwig, of Oklahoma City, the vice chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, and her husband squeezed into a standing-room spot on the National Mall to witness their first inauguration ceremony.