President Barack Obama took the official oath of office on Sunday, and then did the fancy made-for-television pomp and circumstance on Monday and all the while the clock was ticking.
Second inaugurals always mark a beginning and an end. For President Obama, Monday's celebration kicked off his second term, four more years to add to his already significant historic footprint. It also marks an end, because President Obama now knows each day he is in office is one day less to make an impact, one step closer to Jan. 20, 2017.
It is obvious from Monday's inaugural address that we are all in this together. President Obama used the word "we" 55 times in his address, while at the same time saying "now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people."
You get the feeling from those statements, and the five separate occasions where the President used the familiar refrain "we the people", that the next four years might be a lot more about "we" than the people who have those comfortably and high-powered offices on Capitol Hill would prefer. President Obama seems primed for an end-around, going straight to the people of the United States to get things done on his own.
Washington has been stuck in a partisan stalemate that shows few signs of changing since 2008. President Obama will once again be backed by a Democratic-led Senate. The House is still controlled by Republicans, which includes a subset of determined anti-government office holders capable of thwarting majority consensus.
So it appears President Obama is taking the fight outside of Washington, to doorsteps from Sunbury to San Diego. It is a smart move that avoids mud wrestling with Congress, which sports a pitiful 15.2 percent approval rating based on the latest Real Clear Politics poll.
"Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time -- but it does require us to act in our time," the president said Monday. "We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect."
Government is imperfect and the founding fathers knew that. They also understood it works better when "we" are involved.
The president's second inaugural was a call to active and involved citizenship. Answer the call.
Let's all re-discover the practical, optimistic, problem-solving Americans that President Obama said we are.