Delivered at the McCormick place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois, 44th President of The United States of America, Barack Obama started his farewell address to the nation and city alike by first thanking the world for their words and show of support throughout his 2 terms of presidency. Transitioning and traveling down memory lane, he spoke of his coming to his adopted hometown of Chicago, Illinois in his early 20s searching for purpose and who he was and found himself in the shadows of closing steel mills with organized church groups. It is in that pursuit of purpose that he was shown the true power of faith. He worked hand in hand and side by side with humble, working class people in the face of struggle toward a common goal to get involved, engaged and demand change for the environments around them. Through this he tapped into the promise envisioned by our founding fathers of the great gift to chase individual dreams through sweat and toil while striving together to achieve common good. This he says, through the instrument of democracy, shows the capacity to change and make life better for the next generation.
This fabric is what lead patriots to choose republic over tyranny in the early onset of America as a nation. It is the same fabric that lead pioneers to track west in pursuit of expansion, slaves to brave makeshift railroad to freedom in the pursuit of something greater. It is that which pushed women to reach for ballot in the early 20th century in pursuit of gender equality, it told workers to organize for better wages, job conditions and benefits alike but finally it powered people across oceans and the Rio Grande to a free land the has boundless capacities for progression and growth.
Obama realizes a great fact and that is Democracy doesn’t require uniformity; instead, it requires a basic sense of solidarity. He goes on to say either we rise or fall as one. In citing that notion, he spoke of many of the victories we as a nation have accomplished together under his 8 year term, those victories are captured below and are things we all should be proud of:
Successes over 8-year term
- Reversed Great Recession
- Rebooted failing American auto industry
- Unleashed longest stretch of job creation in American history
- Shut down Iran nuclear program without firing s a shot
- Ensure marriage equality for all citizens no matter sexual orientation
- Provide healthcare to millions of people who were previously uninsured
With great successes also come viable threats that can’t be overlooked or treated as water under the bridge. In this light, Obama began to speak of his list of threats that if unattended may diminish the prospects of a prosperous future for generations to come:
Threats to Democracy
1. An unequal economic playing field for all citizens alike.
- We must realize it wont grow unless we come to terms that everyone has economic opportunity
- Unemployment rate is at a 10 year low
- Healthcare cost are rising at slowest rate in history
- Will support any healthcare plan that is demonstrably better than his
- Not looking to score points or take credit, just wants it better and accessible for more people than it is not
- Too many families in inner cities and rural counties are feeling the pain of top 1% amassing an unequal share of gain
- Creates more cynicism and polarization of people in political parties
- Stop laws that afford discrimination in housing, employment, education and in the criminal justice system.
- Laws alone aren’t enough, hearts must change too
2. Post-racial America, meaning racism and social views didn’t just change in the 60s with the dismantling of Jim Crow.
- Relations remain a potent and divisive element in our society
- Consider a persons experience from their point of view (Atticus Fitch)
- Every economic issue cant be framed as a inner city, undeserving person against a hardworking white middle class
- Allowing wealthy to go further into their private enclave while those groups are left fighting for scrapes
- We can’t be unwilling to invest in children of brown kids as they will represent a large share of American workforce
- Minority groups voicing discontent isn’t just reverse racism
- Practicing peaceful protest isn’t requesting special treatment but equal treatment that our founders promised
- Same stereotypes said today were said about Irish, Italians or Polish
- These folks embraced Creed and America was strengthened not made worst as some expected
3. Selective sorting of the facts; reality has a way of catching up to you. So ignoring or not facing the facts doesn’t make it go away, it merely postpones the inevitable.
- Must stop retreating in our own bubbles surrounded by people that look and think like us, never challenging or accepting the facts around us
- We become secure and only seek to legitimize our opinions, as the world is becoming a cookie cutter, individualistic society
- Science and reason matter as we are talking past each other and not conceding when our opponent is making a valid point
4. Must remain vigilant against both external and internal terrorism aggressions while not being afraid.
- Those targeting racial groups and placing dissent and tyranny into the machine with false propaganda, lies and stirring emotions towards extremes are threatening our order.
- Fight against authoritarianism, chauvinism and fascism
- We must avoid radicalization in places like Boston, Orlando, Ft. Hood and San Bernardino
5. Democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. We have to stop saying some of us are more American than the other of us. We all share one ideal; citizenship in America!
- Voting rates are the lowest of developed countries
- Must instill and nurture trust in our structures and political/governmental bodies not constant discontent
- Push them to common sense and not rigid extremes and stalemates
- Must give our constitution power by participating and not solely relying on the piece of paper to work for us.
- It is an contentious process but must be done
- President George Washington said, “Self governing is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity and liberty.”
- With jealous anxiety we must reject the first dawning of any effort to alienate and divide the fabric that makes us one
- If something needs fixing participate in the change and don’t merely be the wagon with the squeaky wheel, complaining
- Lace up your shoes and start organizing.
It is my hopes in condensing the final speech delivered by Obama to help its substance reach the hearts and minds of those that may have overlooked its content in light of other reasons whatever those may be. I found myself inspired, motivated and prepared to continue, to say the least, the perilous journey ahead with the writing of America’s next chapter. What are your some of your thoughts concerning the speech? And are you prepared to welcome our next President elect Donald Trump in 8 days?