– Tauseef Nadeem / Editor –
President Barack Obama gave his farewell address on January 10 after serving as the President of the United States for eight years. By delivering his farewell address from McCormick Place in Chicago, he broke the tradition of delivering the farewell address from the White House.
He began his address by thanking Americans for inspiring him.
“Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man,” Obama said.
Obama underscored the “hallmark” of the United States’ democracy–the peaceful transition of power between presidents–and assured Americans that his administration is ensuring a smooth transition of power to President-Elect Trump. He also advised Americans to stay united under the next presidency.
“Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one,” Obama said.
Obama drew attention to the accomplishments that were made during his presidency. He stated that the economy is growing; incomes and home values are increasing while the rate of poverty was decreasing. Unemployment rates are close to a ten-year low, and the cost of health care is increasing at the slowest rate in 50 years.
However, Obama also pinpointed some economic struggles the country faces. The wealth gap between the top 1% of the population and the people living in inner cities and rural areas is increasing. Domestic automation has caused many middle class jobs to disappear.
In order to counter these problems, Obama suggested to update the social safety net, allow workers to unionize for higher incomes, and reform taxes so that high-earning individuals and corporations pay a fair share of taxes as an obligation to their country.
Obama also encouraged his audience to fight against discrimination against minorities including the LGBTQ community, African-Americans, immigrants and Muslims.
“Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change,” Obama said.
He commended the military, intelligence officers, law enforcement and diplomats for successfully defending the United States against any attack during the past eight years. He assured Americans that ISIL–and any other enemy of the United States–will be vanquished and that the United States will continue to enjoy a dominant position in the world as long as Americans actively participate in the political process.
“Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere,” Obama said.
Obama thanked his wife Michelle for supporting him during their 25 years of marriage, and he praised his children Malia and Sasha. He thanked Vice President Joe Biden for his work and called him his brother before acknowledging his staff members for their years of service. He expressed his gratitude toward Americans who engaged in politics and worked towards bringing social change. By affirming his faith in the American public, he concluded his address with optimism for the future.
“I am asking you to believe.” Obama said, “Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”