President Obama’s swearing-in. (AP Photo)
“So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens—you were the change…. Only you have the power to move us forward.”
—President Obama, Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech, 9/6/12
“You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time, not only with the votes we cast, but the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideas.”
—President Obama, inaugural address, 1/21/13
On Monday, in his second inaugural address, President Obama offered words that inspired hope among some advocates who work every day on economic security issues—whether creating opportunities for families struggling in poverty, or creating better jobs for all workers.
There was hope in Obama saying that “we are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”
Hope in the idea that “the wages of honest labor will liberate families from the brink of hardship,” and that “our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.”
Hope in the notion that we will “empower our citizens with the skills they need to work hard or learn more, reach higher.”
Hope in the reaffirmation that “we, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.”
Hope in touting “the commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.”
Hope in his emphasizing—as he did in his 2012 Democratic convention speech—the common ground between his work as president and ours as citizens: “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time.”
Which is exactly what so many in the anti-poverty movement have been striving to do for decades now.