In these United States we inaugurate our chiefs of state and principal executive officers on January 20. These roles merge in the single office of the presidency, and our corporate charter, the U.S. Constitution, requires the swearing of the oath of office on that date once every four years. That ceremony has happened on time since 1790. the longest continual tradition of leadership inauguration in world history. We Americans should be very proud to be a people of such regular habits–regular at least when it comes to executive power. We also have a very long tradition of inaugurating only presidents who have been duly elected through a complex but generally fair and democratic process. Self congratulation is again appropriate.
But until recently that tradition gave us only caucasion males. In a nation composed of more females than males, and including large minorities of people of color, this tradition bespoke a narrowness of spirit and a diminuation of our professed democratic faith. On this January 20 we affirm that our way of life will be more open to those who have too often been marginalized. The second inauguration of Barach Obama makes clear that a previously marginalized ethnic group may not only break the racial barrier to these high posts, but what is much more important, that the American people are prepared to be led by persons who previously were not even permitted to hope for such high office. The first election of Obama in the middle of a collapsing economy showed the depth of our desperation for new hope. The re-election of the same man after four years clearly demonstrates that our future will no longer be led by bigotry and exclusion. In Lincoln’s historic words we have truly begun to experienc a NEW birth of freedom. Thank God.