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In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama laid out clearly and forcefully the philosophy that animates his presidency and placed it in context of America's history and values. He believes in individual initiative and hard work, in the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But he believes that history has time and again forced us as a nation to recalibrate our notions of what actions are necessary to uphold those values — from the end of slavery with the Civil War to the enfranchisement of women during the Progressive Era to the dawn of the New Deal welfare state and the realization of equality through the civil rights movement. And he believes that evolution is never-ending. If he had given this speech years ago — perhaps at the dawn of the tea party movement — we might find ourselves in a very different place now.
January 21, 2013