An older and wiser Barack Obama officially started his second term Monday as president of the United States with a determination to carry forward a message of hope battered and bruised during his first term in office.
And while he preached unity - as would be expected of any leader - there was no doubt, when reading between the lines, that his speech was aimed at those who helped him win the election.
Women: "Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts."
Proponents of same-sex marriage: "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."
African-American voters who faced disenfranchisement: "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote."
Hispanics: "Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity."
A message of hope, by definition, must look to the future. And the future of the United States will be shaped by those, increasingly, who make up the majority of voters - women and minorities.
But in order to lead America to the future he envisions, Obama will have to continue to fight with a fractious Congress that still represents, to a large extent, the white male establishment that has profited from power and will not give it up easily.
Obama may go down in history as the transition president, the one who had to walk the fine balance between the past and the future - between old power structures and new ones.
And while change under his guidance is inevitable, we shouldn't expect the United States to be reshaped into something more closely resembling Canada or other countries. Love 'em or hate 'em, Americans have always marched to their own drummer.
For the next four years, that drummer is Barack Obama - all-American to the core. We can only sit back and watch where he takes his country.
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