by G. Brown
At 9:00 Tuesday night, President Obama sauntered down a red carpet to say his farewell address to America as its Commander in Chief. At 9:02, viewers began tearing up at the revelation of what’s occurred in the last eight years and the bleak prospect of what may lie ahead. Even the President would shed a tear by the end of his speech.
The President returned to his home of Chicago and said farewell before a crowd of twenty thousand supporters who were given free tickets. Obama took a quick stroll down memory lane to when he first came to the city in his twenties eager to find the path for his life saying, “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. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.”
The President said the capacity to change is the key that makes America exceptional. It was that willingness to change and move forward that paved the road to the White House for the country’s first African American President and helped America reach some goals that Obama said many didn’t believe was possible: ” If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.”
The President’s farewell was enlightening, hopeful and emotional. The power, elegance and magnitude of the moment quickly became #ObamaFarewell on social media. Celebs were among some of the first to try and put into words the collective consciousness of America.
There were critics who posted the same rhetoric about all the things the President has done wrong and what he could have done better, but many of the messages embraced the heartfelt warmth and optimism of the speech.
The President’s also issued a challenge and warning for the next administration with the reminder that “Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity” and the reason to serve is “to make people’s lives better, not worse.” And then the President went there, calling out the racism that was an undercurrent in the last election saying, “There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.”
The President also addressed foreign relations and climate changing. The First Lady and daughter Malia were moved to tears as the President thanked his family. In closing the President issued a call to action—for people to hold fast to faith, not in politicians, but in themselves and their vision of America. His final words…“Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can.”
As we prepare to inaugurate the 45th President who comes in amid negative reports implying dubious connections with Russia to win the White House and poll numbers ranking him the one of the most unpopular Presidents ever elected, do you think there is hope for the future? Or should we all brace for impact during a Trump administration? Do you agree with critics that President Obama was the reason for the racism that’s now rampant?