President Obama took the public oath of office for his second presidential term on Monday, saying the country must harness “new ideas and technology” to remake the federal government.
“We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time,” Obama said in his inaugural address. “We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.”
He continued, “But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.”
In his more than 20-minute speech, Obama told a crowd estimated to be 800,000 people on the National Mall that a decade of war is now ending and economic recovery has begun, saying that America’s possibilities are endless.
“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,” Obama said. “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”
Obama added that the nation must confront the needs of a rising middle class. He also acknowledged that the often divisive and combative politics of today have sometimes fallen short of the size of the country’s problems.
“For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay,” Obama said. “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act; we must act knowing that our work will be imperfect.”
“Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage,” he said. “Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.”
Obama expressed hope for a more peaceful future, noting that Americans understand that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
Americans are “heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends,” the president said. “And we must carry those lessons into this time as well.”