Obama Delivers Farewell Address

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On Tuesday, January 10, Barack Obama delivered his farewell address to the nation. Within his address, he delivered an optimistic message while also calling for Americans to do their part to serve their country.

Obama began his address by talking about his Chicago roots. He spoke briefly about how he had came into his own in the city and how being in Chicago had shaped many of his principles and values.

However, he quickly shifted to his main focus of his speech, which was America’s democracy. He gave a strong call to action, encouraging Americans to work to make America a better place. His message was optimistic. He focused on  the many ways Americans could work to change their country.

“We have shown the capacity to change and make life better for those who follow. Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It’s always been contentious. Sometimes it’s been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all and not just some,” said Obama.

As the speech continued, he talked about what Americans could do to address some of the problems in their country, and truly make it better. He talked about how the American people must allow the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. He also talked about the need for the country to unite and to work for the same goals. He explained that for this to happen, Americans need to be able to feel as though everyone has the same opportunities.

According to Obama,”Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class. … Stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic ideal. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and in rural counties, have been left behind.”

He talked about many different ways to fix these problems which included improvements to public education, tax reform, and giving more power to workers. Obama  then began to talk about a second problem within the United States, racism. His address talked about the need for laws to prevent discrimination, as well as the need for social attitudes to change. He talked about how Americans must try to put themselves in the shoes of people of a different race, and see things from a different perspective.

Obama explained what this meant by saying, “For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he’s got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention, and listen. For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s and that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our Founders promised.”

His final call to action was for Americans to be more involved in politics. He encouraged Americans not only to vote, but to truly get involved in how their country is run. This included running for office, as well as talking with people different than oneself about things you believe and doing work to make your country better. His message was that every American can and should get involved with their democracy and how it is run.

The message of Obama’s farewell address was that we all have the power to bring about change. Whether this change is change in our country, our school, or our neighborhood, we all have the power to make a difference. He asked us to do not only that, but to work to uphold our democracy and our principles. This is a message that can be applied not only to voters and taxpayers, but also to girls at Regina as we fight for what we believe in.