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Questioning Faith In America’s Future

President Obama began his second term on Monday, January 21, 2013, but this time, the message has changed dramatically.

No longer do “hope” and “change” dominate the headlines. The optimism of 2008 is gone. We are in tight gridlock, having just endured the least productive Congress in our nation’s history.

More battles loom just beyond the horizon, as legislators must once again come together to tackle our debt as it edges towards the United States’ borrowing limit. The last time Congress confronted the debt ceiling, it came within a day of forcing the U.S. to default on its debt, something that has never happened before. It also caused a downgrade in the country’s AAA credit rating, another unpleasant milestone.

The American people have, for the moment, given the President the benefit of the doubt, and turned on Congress as the culprit, though he gave no indication of using the opportunity to strong-arm legislation without Republican support. This comes as a rather sharp departure from the strategy of his first term. The Affordable Care Act, one of the biggest pieces of legislation ever passed, received exactly 0 votes from Republicans in Congress.

These tactics will no longer work, as the House is now under Republican control. If anything is going to get done, it will require support and collaboration from both parties, something that is currently at a premium.

President Obama declared that, “Now more than ever, we must do these things as one nation, as one people.” In all, the word “together” appeared in his speech seven times, as he repeatedly emphasized the need for people to work together rather than drawing lines in the sand.

The theme for this year’s inauguration was “Faith in America’s Future.” While past performances may say otherwise, it appears the President really is optimistic about the future, and I hope his words will be reflected in his actions over the next four years. Our nation is at a crossroads, and the decisions made (or not made) during this term will go a long way to determining the type of future America can look forward to.

Written by Andy Li’13


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