Few things are as American as an inauguration. It’s the mom and apple pie of politics. No matter what party you are from or what candidate you voted for in November, it is hard not to marvel at the majesty of the peaceful transition from one presidential term to another.
With the oath of office taken, the parade over, the parties ended, the majesty of the inauguration recedes and the reality of a deeply divided and gridlocked Washington returns. Think of it as the inaugural hangover, the unwelcome reminder of how broken things have been in Washington over the last few years.
On Monday, President Barack Obama delivered an eloquent inaugural address. In it, he laid out his vision for America and where he wants to take the country over the next four years. However, unless President Barack Obama is willing to work with Republicans in the House and the Senate, negotiate on fair terms with them, and in the end, compromise, then his inaugural address will have as little real-world impact as a letter to Santa Claus.
Republicans in Congress and President Barack Obama are going to disagree over much, the vision Republicans would lay out for this country would be a very different one than President Barack Obama did. This disagreement, however, does not have to mean dysfunction.
President Barack Obama, Democrats in the House and the Senate, and Republicans in the House and the Senate, must recognize that unless they work together, nothing will be accomplished. And not getting anything accomplished is not an option.
Our country is facing serious challenges, challenges that cannot simply be ignored. We need to make tough decisions, and they need to be made soon.
We are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis, and mountains of debt threaten not just future generations of Americans, but threaten this generation. This crisis could rock the very foundations of our economy if it is not addressed and addressed soon.
Our economy continues to struggle, with the unemployment rate still at an unacceptably high percentage. Too may Americans have been out of work for too long, and the economic outlook for both the short term and the mid term remains unsettled.
Our reliance on foreign oil continues to pose serious economic, national security and environmental concerns. We continue to operate under an antiquated and cumbersome tax code, one that makes it more difficult for small businesses — the engine of our economy — to start, grow and succeed.
Our immigration system is almost as broken as our politics in Washington. We need a 21st-century approach to immigration that strengthens our economy, strengthens the fabric of our great American society, strengthens our borders, and does so in a way that reflects our humanity.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.