Second Time Around

By Todd A. Smith

            In 1979, R&B group Shalamar sang that the second time around is always better than the first time.

            While that may not be true for the second inauguration of Barack Obama, that does not mean that his second (technically fourth) oath of office is any less significant than that historic January day in 2009. 

While the euphoria of history may not have been the same, hope has been replaced by solid goals, some that should move the country forward and some that may not.

            At the second inauguration of Barack Obama, the president spoke of equality, stating: “For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing.  That while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.”

            During his first term in office, President Barack Obama has lived up to the hype that he represents all people, from equal pay for women to an open military. 

While women still struggle to find equality in the workplace, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and other initiatives from the president has insured that women’s fight for equality in the workplace has not gone in vain.

            “We are true to the 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,” President Obama said.

            After the first inauguration of Barack Obama, the president vowed to bring an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that spread our troops too thin during the War on Terror. 

Thanks to the president, approximately 10 years of war are coming to an end. 

The War on Terror has spread to other areas of the Middle East and North Africa in recent years and despite ending our involvement in the aforementioned wars, President Obama needs to remain vigilant against all threats, foreign and domestic, if he is to maintain his reputation as a strong commander in chief.

            Furthermore, before the first inauguration of Barack Obama, the country faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

As stated in his inaugural address “economic recovery has begun.”  The president has done a good job of avoiding financial collapse, but the economic fight is far from over and he needs to continue fighting for the members of the middle class that got him re-elected in 2012. 

This effort, however, has to be aided by a willing Congress, and not a Congress intent on political gamesmanship but intent on improving the game of life for their constituents.

            To improve the future of the middle class President Obama believes we need to “revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower citizens with the skills they need to work hard or learn more.”

            The educational system, especially higher education, needs to improve during the second term for President Obama. 

Colleges need to do a better job of preparing their students for the workforce and focus on not just keeping students enrolled so they can receive more money from the states and from tuition. 

Emphasis needs to be placed on job preparation and growth through internships, because just a college degree is not sufficient to land a job in today’s workforce. 

Furthermore, high schools and parents need to do a better job of helping teenagers pick the right university because that can mean the difference between employment and unemployment after graduation.

While the issue of climate change is still controversial, during the second inauguration of Barack Obama emphasis was placed on the threat of climate change and what we need to do to protect God’s planet and our energy future. 

“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” President Obama said.

The world’s climate is changing and we owe it to future generations to protect it and secure it for them, not just because science says so, but because God has commanded us to protect the Earth.  And confronting climate change is the first step towards accomplishing that.

While many can argue the wisdom of some of the positions laid out during the second inauguration of Barack Obama, like comparing Stonewall to Selma, few can argue that the novelty of his historic presidency has worn off and we now have a president that is determined to turn hope into a reality.

If he can accomplish most of his goals, then Shalamar must have been correct when they said the second time around is always better than the first.

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