President Barack Obama was inaugurated today in front of tens of thousands [Correction: a million (thanks, Beth!) -UM] of people in Washington, DC, and millions more tuned in for the beginning of what will be his second term. We Urchins were there with him from the start, and we will continue to be present, eager to find out what will be done in the next four years. Here are our most anticipated topics.
It’s safe to say that President Obama’s first term wasn’t as big a success for the environment as we had hoped. From approving oil exploration in Alaska’s fragile Chukchi Sea to failing to join other world leaders on tackling climate change, Obama has frequently made decisions that favour the business over the environment. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have been worse if McCain had been elected, and Obama has made many steps in the right direction, like supporting clean energy.
In his second term, President Obama has several opportunities to take meaningful action against climate change. Putting a stop once and for all on the Keystone XL pipeline, supporting the cap and trade regulations, and making a firm commitment to an international climate change treaty are three major steps the President could and should take in his second term. On 14 November of last year, President Obama said, ‘I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behaviour and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.’ Let’s see what we do.
Despite arguably being placed on the backburner in favour of other issues, immigration remains not only a contentious subject of debate but holds a severe importance on those aforementioned other issues. American xenophobia remains shockingly rampant, with small groups carrying out actions and state-level lawmakers passing laws that are, when you regard them plainly, downright racist. The President’s forthcoming approach to immigration will not only establish the way this country will regard its own citizens as well as people who seek citizenship, but it will alter, hopefully for the better, our current issues of economic growth, social equality, violence against one another, and our relationships with other countries of the world.
There are currently millions of people living in the U.S. whose lives would be irreparably devastated by an illness, surgery, or accident that in most other developed nations would only affect their lives until they recovered. A system wherein someone who can afford to pay for a doctor appointment only pays $30, and someone who can’t afford to pays over $200 out of pocket for that same doctor visit, is a broken system. In his first term, President Obama made many strides towards a better health care system for all Americans, but was met with opposition at nearly every turn by the Republicans in Congress. Now that he has been reelected on a platform on healthcare reform, the Republicans should realise that the people of the United States are ready for a change. It is time for the U.S. to join the rest of the developed world and implement a universal healthcare system for its citizens. President Obama has pledged to do all that he can to make that happen, but it is truly up to the citizens themselves to make their voices heard and stand up to the greedy, individualistic members of Congress who try to block progress.