Gun control, terrorism, gay rights and climate change: Obama sets out his bold battle plan for the next four years

President’s uncompromising address threw down gauntlet to the Republicans

Washington

His left hand barely removed from the two Bibles chosen for his ceremonial swearing-in, Barack Obama used his second inaugural address boldly to urge his fellow citizens to make the most of the new hour - the end of two wars and the start of an economic recovery - to honour a shared vision of prosperity, peace and equality.

“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Mr Obama asserted in a speech that echoed the creeds he campaigned on last year, ranging from protecting the poor and disadvantaged to gay marriage, from healthcare reform to climate change. As such, he threw down the gauntlet to Republicans; there will be no backing down from the principles he believes in.

He spoke on a crisp day in Washington before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the National Mall that briefly broke out into chants of “Obama, Obama” as he rose to speak. Not dwelling directly on the rancour of his first term, or delving too deeply into policy details for his second, Mr Obama sought to strike a tone of optimism and hope.

“America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess 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,” he proclaimed.

The pomp on the West Steps of the Capitol was leavened with a rendition of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ by Beyoncé who was accompanied to her seat by her rapper husband Jay-Z; as royals of music, they threatened almost to steal the show.

Mr Obama took the oath of office using Bibles that had belonged to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Later, the inaugural festivities turned to the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue with the first couple leading and, of course, the tux-and-gowns inaugural balls at the Washington Convention Centre in the evening.

When the oath of office ceremonials were almost done and Mr Obama was being led off the make-shift platform to return inside the Capitol, he turned around and for perhaps half a minute surveyed the ocean of Americans below on the Mall absorbing the history of the moment and, perhaps, his achievement in earning a second term.

Streaming into the Mall earlier – some even before sunrise – supporters of the re-elected President seemed tempered in their hopes for his second term. “I want civility,” offered Peggy Higgins, a Maryland social worker tired of bad blood in Washington. “And I want stricter controls on guns,” she added, paraphrasing what she said she had heard comedian Chris Rock say on the television: “Give ‘em all the guns they want but charge $5,000 for every bullet”.

While he omitted to mention gun control directly, Mr Obama spoke of the need to protect all Americans from danger including in the “quiet lanes of Newtown”, the Connecticut town struck by last month’s school shooting. They need to “know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm,” he said.

Though adorned by familiar rhetorical flourishes, Mr Obama’s address was also blunt as he sought to remind Republicans who was in charge after his dispatch of Mitt Romney in the elections, while at the same time saying that only compromise will make progress in Washington possible. In a direct swipe at the Republican right flank, including Tea Party members, he intoned: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

Mr Obama’s confidence was evident as he touched on divisive issues, such as preserving Medicare even while tackling the deficit. “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of healthcare and the size of our deficit,” he said. “But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

Nor he did he shy from his promises to pursue solutions to threats to global security and climate change. “Failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he declared.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL DBA (2005/2008/2012, projects, storage requirements)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried