President Barack Obama delivered his highly-anticipated farewell speech last night in Chicago.
For a lot of Americans, this moment was filled with sadness, because it meant that Obama’s eight years as president have finally come to an end.
Oh and btw, President Obama is only the 10th president in American history to present a formal goodbye, which is vastly different from the annual State of the Union Address, which he gave a year ago today. This occasion was more heartfelt and poignant, especially in such divided times.
Before the President even uttered one word, the Twittersphere was a hot mess.
— Jazz ☥ (@jaye_michele) January 11, 2017
But when the President finally did begin to speak, he said that the evening would be about saying thank you.
Credit: The White House / Giphy
“My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes that we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks,” Obama began.
“Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people — in living rooms and schools, at farms and on factory floors, at diners and on distant outposts — are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.”
Obama is right about that. His administration was not perfect, but he was able to accomplish so much for the American people and clean up a few messes that were left from his predecessor. While he was able to secure protections for more than 750,000 Dreamers, he also deported more than 2.6 million immigrants.
That was all it took to get the crowd to start chanting:
Please don’t leave us!
Obama said that even though progress “has been uneven,” America is defined by “forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”
President Obama went on to discuss *a few* of his accomplishments, such as reversing the recession, legalizing marriage equality…
— Steven Rattner (@SteveRattner) January 11, 2017
Rebooting the auto industry, creating the longest stretch of job creation in our history, open a new chapter with Cuba, taking out the mastermind of 9/11, and giving 20 million people health insurance… NBD.
He said that the only way he was able to do so much for our country was because of us.
“But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change,” Obama said.
He went on to say that right now is when we need unity more than ever. “Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity,” Obama said.
“The idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
President Obama said that going forward it’s crucial to uphold laws against discrimination. “That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change.”
— Diana Sugg (@DianaSugg) January 11, 2017
He said that we must understand that “politics is a battle of ideas” and while it’s healthy to have a discourse about it, we must prioritize different goals while maintaining “some common baseline of facts.”
On the topic of our environment, Obama said we must allow ourselves to pay attention to real statistics.
“Without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”
But one of the most touching moments came when President Obama talked about the power of the Constitution. He called it “a remarkable and beautiful gift,” but reminded us that it has no power on its own.
Pres. Obama: "Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment…we, the people, give it power." pic.twitter.com/qjG1dr6LuZ
— ABC News (@ABC) January 11, 2017
“We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices we that make and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”
Then he said that if we don’t agree with how things are going on, we should run for office and make a change ourselves!
We’re on it, Obama!
But undoubtedly the most touching moment of the night was when President Obama gave his wife and best friend, Michelle Obama, the most lovely mention.
“You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud,” Obama said.
This is the moment that made both him and Malia shed a few tears.
Of course, he thanked his kids too, which made everyone cry even more.
— Lost In History (@HistoryToLearn) January 11, 2017
If you’re wondering about the youngest of the Obama clan, Sasha, she had a huge exam to take this morning so she stayed back in D.C. to prep. Hard work ethic runs in the family.
One of the most optimistic moments of President Obama’s speech came when he said he wouldn’t be leaving us. He said he’d continue to fight along with us.
“My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain… I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.”
He finished by saying: “Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can.”
And after all that, many couldn’t help but wish they were by him to reach out and do this:
The hug we all need. pic.twitter.com/Ni0WSy0mw8
— Jasmyn Lawson (@JasmynBeKnowing) January 11, 2017
Thank you, Obama.
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