Personal Response to Obama’s Inauguration Speech
Throughout the speech, Obama maintains the theme of small things being able to grow into anything. In the section entitled “Victory for the People”, this is very much present, as he describes how his campaign “didn’t start with much money”, and didn’t begin in grand government buildings in the country’s capital, but “in the backyards of Des Moines…and the front porches of Charleston”. He talks about how working people scraped together “what little savings they had” to contribute small amounts of money to the cause. Obama describes how the campaign became stronger because of the millions of Americans, young and old, who volunteered and created support for his cause. All of this creates an image of unity and limitless possibility for anyone who wants to have success in life.
This, of course, is reflected in Obama’s own improbable story, having been a mixed-race Kenyan-American raised by his grandparents and having relatively little political experience, yet managing to be elected president of the most influential and powerful country in the world. Obama adds to his message of unity by describing his victory as “your victory” – meaning that it is the American people who have brought about this change and who have managed to get their voices heard; although he is the one standing on the podium making an acceptance speech, it was them who succeeded in putting him there.
Obama invokes images of unity throughout his speech. Multiple times, he refers to his country as the “United States of America” – using the full name though the abbreviation “USA” or just “America” would have been sufficient. He talks about their “common purpose” and uses “we” instead of “I” to instil a sense of togetherness in his audience. He tries to include all types of people in his message – “young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hipic, Asian, Native American…disabled and not disabled”. He even includes “gay [or] straight” people in his list, showing an unusual amount of tolerance for a to-be American president. All of this introduces an extremely likeable, human element to his character.
This approachable, human manner is maintained throughout the speech. Although Obama has been elected to be the single most powerful human being in the world, he does not attempt to put on a cold, macho faï¿½ade. He refers to his wife as “the love of my life”, and, clearly getting emotional, he tells his girls, “I love you both more than you can imagine” and promises them a new puppy when they move into the White House. He also refers to his grandmother, who had died the night before, which invokes sympathy and appeals to the emotions of those listening and watching him.
Towards the end of his speech, Obama repeats his most famous line, which the crowd has been shouting at him all night, and which sums up his story and message in three words: “Yes we can.” In my opinion, these words, and the whole of Obama’s speech, hold a promise of change which America now has a chance of keeping. His words make me hopeful for what lies ahead in the years of Barack Obama’s presidency to come.