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President Obama Bids Farewell to Nation

By Jamal Kingston, Lifestyle & Politics Editor
On January 25, 2017

President Obama's historic personality an presidency has been represented in iconic photos. (Photo courtesy of: Alexander Lewis)

On Jan. 10, outgoing President Barack Obama addressed the nation for the last time as President from his hometown of Chicago. Flanked by his core supporters and close confidants, he spoke about his eight-year run - discussing topics such as the economic recovery that he has touted from the beginning of 2010, after the late 2000’s recession. Obama, 55, spoke glowingly of the societal progresses of his administration including the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling that same sex marriage was legal and the law of the land as well as increasing diversity of America.

Obama spoke about how Americans need to speak to each other more in conversational tones to understand racial, economic and societal differences instead of attacking each other on the Internet and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in that have risen in popularity in the 21st century age. Obama also commented on his two political campaigns for the presidency and how it changed how America’s diverse demographics. “After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth,” Obama said during his address "Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk means that the future should be ours.”

The president warned America that the growing rise of money in politics and rising income inequality could hamper American democracy creating apathy and cynicism in American politics. The President called for a new social compact to guarantee that every American has a good education, more wage growth, boosting and increase of social safety nets and tax reforms. Obama likewise said that Americans would have to work together and find common ground if they want to make America a better place for all.

Race was one of the biggest topics of the address. As the first African-American president, Obama has had a platform to address race more than other presidents in the past. Obama spoke about how Americans need to listen to each other’s viewpoints about society, regardless of the color of their skin. He spoke about issues facing minorities such as policing, race, education, and jobs, as well as issues facing the white population such as globalization, jobs, etc. However, he said that these issues affect all Americans regardless of skin color. He spoke about how confident he was that America would come together at last to find common ground and be a united nation, despite how unlikely it is, after the bitter 2016 presidential election.

Obama warned America about the future of American foreign policy and alienating Muslims from being part of American society. He spoke clearly about how he felt that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) would be destroyed soon. “ISIL will be destroyed and no one who threatens America will be safe,” said President Obama. He warned about his perception of growing intolerance towards Muslim Americans which some analysts fear started with the 2016 elections through a proposal by President-elect Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering America. “That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans, who are just as patriotic as we are,” Obama said.

The outgoing president’s gave tributes to his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, his daughters Malia and Sasha (Sasha did not attend the Chicago farewell address), Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. He spoke glowingly of his wife, thanking her for her wisdom and service to the nation. “You’ve made the White House a place that belongs to everybody”. He opined about how picking Biden as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 and having his family as a friend is the “greatest joys of their lives’. Mrs. Obama, her daughter, and the Bidens were visibly emotional; President Obama wiped a tear off his face while discussing family and the past eight years in office.  

He thanked his core supporters for everything that they have done during his presidency but also promised that he is not going anywhere and as a private citizen he will be part of the larger political discourse

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