My fellow citizens, it is an honor and a privilege to stand before you today as the first female President of the United States of America.
Both Democrats and Republicans campaigned hard this fall, and though the election had many twists and turns, no one, including me, expected this to be the outcome. Yet here we stand. And now, as President, I turn toward the task of renewing our nation in the face of new challenges.
My Presidency comes at a time when our nation feels deeply divided. Isolated. Stratified. The distance between us seems so great as to be insurmountable. Many Americans felt that this election called into question our civility and our decency. We asked ourselves: How can we bridge the divide between ourselves and our fellow citizens? Our neighbors, colleagues, and family members? How can we empathize? How can we find common cause again? What does taking that first step look like, and who’s going to do it? My fellow Americans, consider today that first step.
Many people thought our country wasn’t ready to have a female President. They thought that it was “too much progress,” after the historic election of my predecessor, President Obama. They asked, skeptically, “Was America really ready for a female President?” Today, we have an answer: Yes, we are.
Today we take a step away from fear. Away from the idea that our country will be able to move forward while looking backward. Away from the idea that our best days are behind us.
Today we take a step towards a bolder, brighter future. From universal health care to reproductive and voting rights, we have spent decades fighting for what should be fundamental human rights in our democracy. Today we embark on a path that will take us much further than these basic requirements for equality, further than the bare minimum needed for survival. A path that will take us away from an economics of scarcity and towards an economics of abundance, where all are provided for, and every seed is given the rich soil and care it needs to blossom and flourish. We move forward, not only to defend the laws that prevent discrimination, but to pass policies that foster and support inclusion. Toward a future that does not merely tolerate, but celebrates our differences.
We are here today, secure in the knowledge that black lives matter. Secure in the knowledge that water is life. Secure in the knowledge that marriage equality, while deeply necessary, is by no means the final frontier in the struggle for rights in the LGBTQ community. Secure in the knowledge that climate change is a real and pressing danger to the future of our nation and the fate of our world.
When Elizabeth Cady Stanton read the Declaration of Sentiments in Seneca Falls in 1848, she said: “All men and women are created equal.” It is the duty of government to secure the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all members of our nation, regardless of creed, religion, class, or nation of origin. Our arms are open in an embrace to the world.
We have a long road ahead of us, but with your help, we will prevail. My Presidency alone isn’t enough to fix the ills of our nation, to steer us down this righteous path. It’s going to take the support and active participation of each and every one of you to make our dream of liberation and American community a reality. After all, this is a government of the people, for the people, by the people.
So as I begin my term, I thank you for your surprising faith in me to unify and renew our nation. And I ask you to commit now: There will be challenging times ahead. There will be times when the walls between us seem insurmountable and the valleys that divide us unbridgeable. And when those times come, I ask you not to falter, but to leap. Together, we will create a better, brighter future for the United States of America.