BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
January 20, 2013
“I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.” This is what President Barack Obama must recite as he takes the oath of office for the second time.
The U.S. Constitution demands that the terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon the 20th day of January, which officially translates to the beginning of a new term for elected President. For Obama, it is a return to the White House he captured four years ago, in a historic election that brought him to office as the first African-American elected to the highest post.
Earlier this morning, Vice President Joseph Biden was officially sworn in to begin his second term in a new Obama administration. The President took his oath in a private ceremony same day, as his new term officially begins on Sunday January 20. The President took his oath of office shortly before noon at the White House, in front of Justice Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, he will take a public oath followed by his address that will lay out the values and vision for his Second term and acknowledge the divide in Washington but won’t discuss policy issues.
Obama takes the oath as the 17th American President to deliver a second inaugural address before the parade up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. This time, he’ll do so with two Bibles. One belonged to Abraham Lincoln, the other to the Civil Rights Activists Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The President’s choice of Bibles once owned by two great Americans is symbolic as both were leaders who believed in equality and shared the same vision of a good model for democracy.
Throughout his life, Rev. King used a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to bring about change. He combated racial inequality by bringing people together to stand against injustice and expanded his focus to include Poverty and the Vietnam War. Abraham Lincoln also believed in the natural and inalienable rights for all people by virtue of their common humanity, irrespective of race, color and creed. He opposed slavery and encouraged America to advance the cause of protecting human rights. Just like Dr. King, Lincoln was a religious man who insisted that America’s commitment to liberty and equality be in accordance to the character and intention of the Almighty.
The likeness of Obama to both Lincoln and Dr. King could be in the common belief they share as lovers of democracy, nonviolence, and equality. Obama is a product of the famous “I have a dream” speech. His road to the White House brought to reality the vision by Dr. King of a nation, where people are not judged by their race or the color of their skin, dream of a unified America.
In Lincoln, Obama saw a great leader, who expressed moral opposition to slavery in both his private and public life. A man who expected to bring about extinction of slavery by stopping its further expansion into any U.S. territory and by calling for compensated emancipation. An offer he made to Congress which led to a political attack on him and the label as an abolitionist.
Since taking office, Obama has fought for the middle class. He worked to bridge the gap between the rich and poor by pushing before Congress a policy to fix America’s tax code, a point he made the center of his reelection campaign. Just like Lincoln and Dr. King, he has advocated for racial equality and expressed his preference for diplomacy to nonviolence in dealing with global issues. U.S. soldiers are home from Iraq, Afghanistan is winding up and the likelihood of confrontation with Iran is yet unseen despite pressure from war advocates.
It is therefore, not a surprise he has chosen both Bibles considering the values he shared with the two great American leaders. He takes the oath, with about 800,000 people expected to grant the occasion, unlike the record 1.8 million that came to the National Mall in 2009 at his first inaugural. The ceremony would be low-key with two Presidential balls unlike the 10 we saw at his first inauguration. Perhaps the decision to moderate could be based on today’s bad economy, but not without singing by Beyonce, James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.