President must fulfill promises

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President Obama gives a speech in the Quad Cities.

Fittingly, President Barack Obama was sworn in last Monday for his second term of office on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Democrat or Republican, everyone can find at least a partial fulfillment of Dr. King’s great dream in President Obama- that people will be judged on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin.
Although the president has critics in both parties, he has kept many promises from his first term – the passage of the Affordable Care Act, rescinding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, public support of both Planned Parenthood and Roe v. Wade, support for marriage equality, the death of Osama bin Laden and the beginning of the end of the War in Iraq are just a few of the things he managed to accomplish his first term.
Now it’s time to begin moving forward, as Obama’s second term as president has officially begun. His inaugural speech on Monday was passionate, inspiring and full of the hope and promise that Obama’s supporters know and love. In the next four years, it will be up to not only President Obama, but also to Congress and the Supreme Court to keep these promises and keep the hope of the American people alive.
As President Obama said in his second inaugural address, “a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.” This statement is true within our own borders as it is outside our borders, wherever the United States extends its philanthropic hand or military might.
One of the very first things President Obama must do in his second term of office is to end the drone strikes overseas. The civilian casualties can no longer be justified by any military gains that are being made. Children are being “accidentally” murdered in Yemen, Afghanistan and many other places in the name of protecting American citizens. The drone strikes must be stopped if Obama truly means that “a great nation must care for the vulnerable,” for who could be more vulnerable than the unarmed civilians in a war-torn, occupied country?
Another group of vulnerable people who live in the United States are people of a gender or sexual minority, more commonly referred to as the LGBT community. President Obama said, “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.” He could not be more right with this statement.
The president has already made greater strides on behalf of the LGBT community than any other president, but simply getting rid of DADT will not be enough. Full marriage equality for gays and lesbians nationwide must be a priority. Legal rights and recognition for transgender and transsexual people in our country must become a priority as well, as trans people can no longer be marginalized by the law and by society. President Obama must do everything in his power to ensure that pieces of legislation are passed, such as the Violence Against Women Act with its clauses about trans rights and rights for indigenous women.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.” Americans, especially the President, can no longer afford to be ignorant or to willfully ignore economic injustice in our society. Under Obama’s leadership, Congress must pass comprehensive tax laws that treat everyone equally and fairly, regardless of how wealthy they may or may not be, with no more exceptions for the extremely wealthy and with corporations being treated as businesses, not people. Social welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security must be preserved and strengthened in order to assist those who truly need the bailouts in our country – not Wall Street, but the people living in Third World-style poverty right here in America.
Women’s rights must also be preserved in the United States. In a country where we require consent to donate organs posthumously, it makes absolutely zero sense that politicians on Capitol Hill are trying to dictate what women can and cannot do with their bodies, whether it is in regards to the medications they take or the medical procedures they undergo in order live their lives as they see fit. Abortion and contraception are deeply personal choices made by women, under advisement of their doctors. President Obama is already a strong ally for women and organizations like Planned Parenthood (who do so much more than just provide abortions – which is only 3% of what they do nationwide). He must continue this support and do everything he can to stop any legislation that would take away the rights for women to govern their own bodies.
I have hope for Obama’s second term. This was the first election I ever voted in, and I am proud to say I cast my vote for Obama. Now it is time for him to live up to my expectations of him and do what is morally right here in the United States and around the world.