President Obama, in his second inauguration speech, didn’t hedge about what he wants to accomplish.
The speech, perhaps more so than any of his presidency, was designed for history, to place Obama in the pantheon of his ideological heroes. It also reflected his vision of what the nation will look like decades and centuries down the line.
“The speech was both communitarian and combative,” said former Clinton strategist Paul Begala. “Gone is the airy-fairy Kumbaya of Obama 1.0…. He is advocating a much more muscular form of liberalism than he has in the past.”
Progressive leaders also celebrated Obama’s attempt to re-center American politics with a mixture of traditional rhetoric and contemporary values.
“President Obama’s brilliance is to take progressive issues — gay rights, climate change, voting rights — and make them part of core American values of opportunity, freedom and equality,” Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden told BuzzFeed. “He also is able to make quintessential progressive values like community and obligations to each other part of moving towards America’s future, not its past.”