Round Two: President Obama’s Inauguration Threw Specific Punches at Inequality

Round Two: President Obama’s Inauguration Threw Specific Punches at Inequality

The President’s inauguration unites everyone in Washington DC by at least one measure – we all have an opinion on the Big Event.

In Washington DC, the inaugural event is a Big Event – hundreds of thousands of people choose to attend for a multitude of reasons, but always with the spectacle of a Big Event firmly in mind. Inauguration day 2013 was also significant to many people since it occurred on the same day commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Of course, some residents leave the city – this year a large exodus of Republicans boosted visitor numbers in a much warmer Florida and a much glitzier Las Vegas for example.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy both the Big Event and some of the more intimate affairs hosted throughout the day. Opinions range from weather (chilly), to the demeanour of the crowds (warm, celebratory), to the content of the many speeches. Few politicians regard the usual inaugural speech as a strong policy moment for the incoming President, yet in my opinion this year was different – a re-elected President aggressively setting the scene for what we can expect over the next four years (or the next 6-18 months of high energy).

Even though the State of the Union address usually makes more specific pledges on policy, President Obama’s “we, the people” mantra explicitly spoke to his agenda for his final term in office. He stated that he will focus on issues including:

  • Tax Reform
  • Climate Change
  • Immigration Reform
  • Reduction of Gun Violence
  • Equality for Women and for the Gay community


These are big issues, polarizing issues, and in addition to the ongoing fiscal challenges of the nation, we will truly see a test of compromise between the President and Congress and Capitol Hill.

Among the crowds, conversation was less focused at all times on the big topics – a few of the conversations I picked up on:

  • Our Broken budget process, since 2009 – I’ll put together another blog on this at some point. 
  • Obama’s usual posture is relatively non-partisan, but this time he came out swinging, aggressive – although he was more conciliatory at the less-public lunch after.
  • Beyonce’s powerful rendition of our national anthem – later revealed to be a lip synch effort, but no less impressive for everyone on the day.
  • Republicans on the big screens – often a chance for a good-natured “boo!” from the voters who came to celebrate victory.
  • Where’s Romney? – perhaps even more noticeable by his absence.