Obama bids bittersweet, hopeful farewell: ‘Yes, we did. Yes, we can’
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On Jan. 10, President Barack Obama bid a bittersweet farewell to an emotional crowd in his hometown of Chicago, Ill.
The 44th Commander in Chief’s address discussed political and social achievements of his administration during his two-term presidency, all the while maintaining an underlying theme of hope and optimism–the same ideals upon which his campaign was founded eight years ago.
Obama began by discussing his experience in office with the American people, stating that it was the people who made him “a better president” and “a better man.”
At one point during his address, the crowd began chanting, “Four more years!”; implying that they wanted him to be their president for another four-year term. Obama replied with a smile, “I can’t do that.”
The first half of the address concentrated on the state of American democracy, including the strides it has made during his administration.
He urged Americans to continue to uphold the ideals of the American Dream and to respond to the patriotic call of active citizenship. He also recapitulated how citizens have done so in years past, how “pioneers [trekked] west, slaves [braved the] makeshift railroad to freedom,” and “women [reached] for the ballot,” putting America on the historical map for trailblazers and dreamers.
Obama discussed and rebutted several discussions that have recently come to light. These included “post-racial America,” the dialogue on climate change and the “self-defeating” selective sorting of facts many people have begun doing as an effect of the recent presidential campaign.
“Regardless of the station we occupy,” he said. “We have to try harder.”
In a similar fashion to First Lady Michelle Obama’s final speech, in which she calmed young people’s fears about the upcoming Trump administration, Barack Obama assuaged the anxieties of the American people against terrorism and international rivals.
“Let’s be vigilant but not afraid,” the president said.
As a final point, the Obama urged people to consistently take part in democracy and to be an active voice, not only when there is an election. This, he says, is how democracy and politics will be effective and freedom duly earned, when all people “[accept] the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.”
Misty-eyed, the president thanked Michelle Obama and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, as well as Vice President Joe Biden for their loving dedication and support during his presidency.
Following the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the Obamas plan to remain in Washington, D.C. so that their daughter Sasha can graduate from high school with her class.
They will then continue to live as private citizens. During an interview on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” Michelle Obama confirmed she will continue to work with her various initiatives. The president has plans to write a book following his time in office.
Despite Americans’ differing views on Obama’s presidency, one aspect remains unquestionable: his administration will go down as one of the most substantial presidencies in history. The continuation of his legacy, however, remains up to the American people.