It seems like only yesterday we were in the throes of a never-ending election year. Fortunately, it did finally end, and once the winner is chosen (i.e. the same guy we had before), it’s time to pull out all the pomp and circumstance for Inauguration Day. Today, President Barack Obama will once again take the presidential oath of office. And just like his first term, the president has a host of issues to deal with—enough to last him for the next four years. Gun control, same-sex marriage, the economy, foreign affairs—and those are just the ones that are in the news today. To offer the president a little help on prioritizing his four-year to-do list, we reached out to a few musicians who aren’t afraid to talk politics. Find out what some of your favorite artists think the president should focus on this second time around.
Chris “Cmar” Martin, Hostage Calm
The question is not what President Obama should focus on, but what we as citizens should push for. Public sentiment—loud, focused, clear action—truly plays a driving role in the direction of our nation. As soon as the Tea Party became vocal, the "hope" and "change" we voted for disappeared. Imagine if we were that loud. President Obama was re-elected by an historic coalition of typically downtrodden and forgotten parts of the American body politic. He's the first President in a long time to believe in an underdog coalition. It's time we start believing in ourselves what we can do as a team. Obama doesn't run America: We do.
Tim McIlrath, Rise Against
There are so many issues to tackle in today's political climate that it can seem overwhelming at times. Each of us have our passions and issues we feel strongly about, and personal reasons for wanting a President to focus on one issue more than another. But as long as money rules elections, our individual voices will always be drowned out. Without meaningful campaign finance reform, immigrant rights will be drowned out by the prison industry; common sense gun control will be drowned out by the NRA; universal health care will be drowned out by the very profitable health care industry; and innovation in alternative energies that make our country safer and more sustainable will continue to be stifled by the oil and gas industry as they use profits to confuse consumers with climate disinformation. Overturning Citizens United would be a step in the right direction, and there is real momentum happening now, so join in. Presidents shouldn't be pawns of the industry; they should serve each and everyone of us.
Ryan Neff, Miss May I
"One hot-button topic on Obama’s list has to be gun control. The recent school shooting tragedies have thrust gun control policies into many Americans daily conversations. I don't know what policy can be enacted to fix this problem, but what I can be sure of is this [issue] isn't going away any time soon.
I’m interested to see how health care is handled. America had almost 50 million citizens without health insurance last year. I will fall into this statistic soon, as I will lose the insurance coverage from my parents. I am working for a company that, like many, can't afford to put a health care plan in place for me, leaving me to assume the risk or find coverage elsewhere.
Retirement and Social Security are other worries for me that I hope to see Obama tackle. This isn't an immediate problem for my generation, but seeing as how the delivery of Social Security checks is delayed, who knows what could happen by the time I do make it there—that’s if the system’s structure is even intact by the time my age group reaches retirement. Without the debt ceiling being raised, this problem cannot be fixed."
Claudio Rivera, Saves The Day
"Obama should think back to election night and remind himself that the majority of the country backs him and his policies. There is no reason for him to meet the other side halfway, only to be told that it's not enough. The President has a mandate and he should use his second term to execute policies that are overwhelmingly popular, such as equal marriage rights, universal background checks for guns and investing in infrastructure."
Eric Victorino, The Limousines
"President Obama’s second term will be his most important because at least two Supreme Court justices are going to retire in the next four years. It’s the President’s job to choose who gets these lifetime appointments to the high court, and these judges have the most influence on our laws. Gay marriage, gun control, Obamacare and abortion are hot-button issues that the Supreme Court has more influence over than anyone else. Obama can appoint more non-old-white-men with liberal views and his influence will be felt for generations."
"I voted for Barack Obama because he openly supports marriage equality, and I think it's time for him to take action on this. The idea that some human beings are worth less than others is absolutely ridiculous. Hopefully Obama can get us out of the dark ages and into 2013."