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La Stampa, Italy

The Challenges of a President Who
Dreams of a “More Responsible” America

By Maurizio Molinari

It is this approach to the reconstruction of America that marks the transition to the second term ...

Translated By Claudia Pellicano

17 January 2013

Edited by Kyrstie Lane

Italy - La Stampa - Original Article (Italian)

Congress’ request to reintroduce the ban against assault weapons is a moment that defines Barack Obama’s presidency because it is founded on the necessity to “take responsibility for one another,” or the idea on which to rebuild the nation.

When, on Jan. 20, 2009, Obama pronounced his first inaugural address from the steps of Capitol Hill, he indicated the necessity of “a new era of responsibility,” and “a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world.” From that moment on, the 44th president used the term “responsibility” in every political battle aimed to accomplish the reforms that he deems most necessary.

He did it on the following Sept. 9, in front of Congress, supporting the importance of approving Health Care reform as a “choice of responsibility” that would be rewarded by the possibility for every citizen to have health insurance. He repeated it, 20 days later, when signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on wage equality — which put an end to wage discrimination between men and women at work.

On Dec. 19, 2010, the same term accompanied his praise for the Senate’s vote that abolished discrimination against gay people in the army because it demonstrates responsibility toward the tens of thousands of Americans in uniform asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.

And on June 15, 2012, announcing the end of deportations of illegal immigrants under the age of 30, Obama expressed the responsibility of the nation toward these “young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

According to Robert Gibbs, one of Obama’s closest associates, the main idea behind this is to put the nation back on track to being united — referring to the collective solidarity demonstrated by Abraham Lincoln in healing the wounds of civil war and slavery. It is an interpretation that mirrors what Obama said at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July 2004 — when he made his debut on the national scene — underlining: “It is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, that makes this country work.”

This means that the basis of American freedom is responsibility toward others. In the case of the fight against assault weapons, Obama declares his commitment to those who are most important, our children, because we have to protect them from those who want to harm them. In his speech in Newtown, a few days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he went so far as to identify the protection of children as the meeting point between all faiths. It is this approach to the reconstruction of America that marks the transition to the second term, on whose horizon other similar battles already lie — from immigration reform to the strengthening of the welfare state.



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