President Barack Obama’s Farewell address to the people in his hometown of Chicago and the millions of viewers who watched it on the many media outlets around the country was scintillating. Yes, it was brilliant, exciting, skillful and clever! This gifted orator challenged each and every one of us to “Fare Well” as he leaves the presidency by becoming better citizens and stewards of each other and rejecting the politics of fear and division.
He began with his humble acknowledgment of all the well-wishes that he and Michelle had received over the past few weeks, and then hit on a major theme of the speech, a well-defined “Thank You” to the American people, regardless of whether they supported him or not. While citing his interactions with a diverse populace from the living rooms, farms, factories and rural and inner cities on his journey to capturing the presidency in 2008 and 2012, he thanked the American people for making him a better President and a better man. The constitutional law professor then gave his audience a lecture on how great our country is and can continue to be because of the constitution our forefathers crafted some 240 years earlier if, we the people, can accept that change will happen when ordinary people get involved and engaged and they come together to demand it.
He then moved on to briefly bullet point his administration’s accomplishments, which included reversing the great recession, rebooting the auto industry, overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history, establishing relations with Cuba, shutting down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, eliminating the mastermind of 9/11, winning the fight for marriage equality, and securing the right for health insurance for 20 million uninsured fellow citizens. However, he credited the American people for demanding the change that made it all possible. While “chilling” the crowd on being crass when speaking towards the peaceful transition of power in 10 days, the exiting president made it so very clear why most Americans are going to miss the honesty, grace, and reverence that his presidency brought and maintained at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the past eight years.
Without mentioning Donald Trump’s name, the outgoing President of the United States laid out a blueprint of what the president-elect might want to examine. Speaking candidly, he cited that Democracy only works when our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if we as a people, regardless of political affiliation or particular interests, work toward a common purpose. While I give him credit for not over politicizing the address, his veiled commentary was a warning to us that the very core of our Democracy is being threatened by a new movement in American politics and the Media that allows fiction over fact! Fear and division has seeped into our politics and is like a rabid disease that turns politicians into LIARS and infotainment channels, such as Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and others, into purveyors of misinformation and slanted points of views. I heard the President issue a cause to reason and after listening to the political pundits to the address, not many were listening. I turned from Fox to CNN to MSNBC to Channels 2, 5, and 7 and was confused as it seemed to me that none of the pundits were watching and hearing what I saw and heard.
I truly think that President Obama is hoping that President-elect Trump succeeds, as I do. I mean, what sense does it make to hope he fails, gets impeached, or something worse? With that said, I firmly believe that the president’s speech was a call for unity and to desist in the division and polarization that has gotten worse and worse. America needs to regain a moral compass that Trumps truth over lies, fact over fiction, and love over hate. That is how we can make “America Great Again!”
Blog and Opinion by James Cannon
Edited by Leigh Haugh
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons – Creative Commons License