The most important paragraph of President Obama’s second inaugural address

January 21, 2013

President Obama's second inaugural address clocked in at 19 minutes and 2,114 words long. (You can read the speech here and watch it here.) But, there was a single paragraph that encapsulated the entire address and is worth highlight here.

Here it is:

"It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."

In those five sentences, President Obama not only ticked off what he had done in his first term (equal pay for women, supporting gay marriage) but also what he wanted to do in his second term (climate change, gun control).  In those five sentences, too, Obama articulated the broader thematic of the speech: That we are all in this together and that we will ultimately judged by how we treat the lowest among us. In those five sentences Obama outlined what he wanted his second term to be -- and to mean.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Aaron Blake | January 21, 2013