Thursday, January 12, 2017

Obama Lays Out a Vision for America's Future and Stopping Trump and GOP in His Farewell Address

On the surface, President Barack Obama’s farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday night recounted his achievements, his values and his still-hopeful vision for America—much like the best speeches. But not far below was a clear template telling his supporters how to defend the America they believe in against threats by Donald Trump and the GOP.
Obama's view of history is one that embraces larger-than-life figures like Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who both believed in the quest to create a more perfect union and the slow but inevitable pace of progress. But his view also ackowledges the historic rise of immigrants who bettered their lives and communities after settling here. In his speech, Obama embraced the country’s increasingly multicultural and open-minded youths, urging them to stay active in politics and work for the change they seek.   

“This generation coming up—unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic—I’ve seen you in every corner of the country,” Obama said, near the speech’s conclusion. “You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.”

Obama’s farewell recounted his legacy, his greatest social and economic achievements, foreign policy successes without new major wars, and challenged Republicans to find ways to improve Obamacare without ending coverage to 20 million Americans who now have health insurance. But like all his greatest speeches, Obama spent an inordinate amount of time focused on the idea of what it means to be an American, which is to be steeped in communitarian values such as faith, family, dignified work, shared notions of the common good, and a belief in participatory democracy. He added that these values are threatened by widening economic inequality, kneejerk racism and grievance-based politics. 
“It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss,” Obama said, early in his speech, as he laid a foundation explaining his values and philosophy. “This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together to demand it. After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea—our bold experiment in self-government.”
But Obama reminded Americans and deflated Democrats that the arc of progress is never a straight line, but filled with setbacks.
“For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back,” he said, referring to the election results. “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.... We remain the wealthiest, most powerful and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours. But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of our people.  Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.” Read full post here 

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