Jan 11, 2016 (LBO) – U.S. President Barack Obama gave his farewell speech on Tuesday, highlighting several achievements during his tenure, including reversing a recession and taking out the mastermind of 9/11.
He called on democrats to support a peaceful transition of power, the hallmark of U.S. elections, urging supporters that democracy does not require uniformity, but does require a sense of solidarity.
“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 …,” Obama said to a packed audience.
“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.”
“But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.”
He called on African-Americans and minorities to view with empathy “the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.”
Inside the convention hall with more than 20,000 of his ardent supporters and former staffers, the mood was wistful. Aides described the normally unsentimental commander in chief as nostalgic.
“Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same.”
“But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
He also spoke to the divisive election campaigning that some argue has worsened race relations in the United States.
“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions,” he said.
“The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.
“And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.
“This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them.
“But without some common baseline of facts; 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.”
Obama’s speech can be viewed here