Obama promises more equality, ‘more perfect union’ in second term

Photo: Tony Merevick.

After a bitter and bruising battle to retain the White House, President Barack Obama looked forward to a second term full of progress, equality and getting back to the “work we still need to get done” in his victory speech to thousands of cheering supporters gathered at his McCormick Place election night rally late Tuesday night.

“Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” Obama said, starting his speech to a roar of applause. “Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

The president began his speech around 12:38 a.m. Wednesday, just moments after he took the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia. By then, he had won over 300 electoral votes and had a slight lead in the amount of popular votes counted.

He quickly thanked Gov. Mitt Romney and congratulated him for a “hard-fought campaign” before launching into his vision for moving forward — even pledging to sit down with Romney to talk about ways of forging ahead.

Throughout the speech, Obama emphasized the importance of giving every American a fair chance at success, ending inequality and tackling issues like the national debt, global warming, quality of education and health care — even hinting at improving the voting process at polls.

“We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt; that isn’t weakened by inequality; that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet,” he said. “We believe in a generous America; in a compassionate America; in a tolerant America.”

Coming together as a nation to solve its problems, he contended, is the only way forward.

“America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made, and continue to fight for new jobs, and new opportunity, and new security for the middle class,” Obama said, his voice rising with the energy of the crowd.

“I believe we can keep the promise of our founding — the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or where you love — it doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white, or Hispanic or Asian, or Native American, or young or old, or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight — you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”

The massive McCormick Place convention-sized room erupted with applause and cheers as Obama ended his speech. Confetti exploded across the stage and the standing room only space around it. Some supporters, campaign workers and media alike wiped tears from their eyes as it fluttered down around the president, his family and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, who joined the president in an embrace and waved to people in the crowd.

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