“It’s good to be home,” said President #Barack Obama as he walked onstage in Chicago’s McCormick Place last night to the sounds of U2 to give his farewell speech while he prepares to hand the reins over to President-elect #Donald Trump.
When he brought up “the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next,” everyone in the audience of 18,000 erupted into booing Obama, but he calmed them down with a quick “No, no, no,” before clarifying that he “committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition,” and mentioned how George W. Bush did the same for him in 2009, for which everybody cheered.
Obama mostly addressed political division
The biggest subject Obama tackled in his speech was the divide between liberals and conservatives as a Democratic government transitions into a Republican government. Obama called this “fear of change,” and addressed Trump’s “selective sorting of the facts,” disregard for climate change (a topic Obama feels very passionately about), “discrimination against Muslim Americans,” and “arguing with strangers on the internet.” Obama warned that, for all of these issues, there are “no quick fixes,” and only named Trump once throughout the entire hour-long address.
Obama had a lot to say about the air of bitterness surrounding the election cycle this past year, as Trump and Hillary Clinton became fierce rivals and began personally attacking one another to get ahead in the ultimately meaningless polls. He says that the rapidly changing economy and the media made this switch of political power “seem natural, even inevitable.”
Obama said that the spreading of fake news is “increasingly” becoming a problem, as “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 could be a reference to the Pizzagate scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton that alleged she was running a child sex abuse ring out of a pizzeria basement. Despite no evidence whatsoever to support it, right-wing conspiracy theorists who support Trump became obsessed, and led to a shooting incident at the pizzeria involved.
The farewell speech is a tried and true Presidential tradition
US Presidents have always given farewell speeches on their way out of the White House, ever since George Washington, but it was Eisenhower whose gripping and groovy remarks in 1961 flipped the script on the old-fashioned farewell address and injected some much-needed life into the proceedings. However, they are mostly delivered from the Oval Office, whereas Obama decided to do it in Chicago, the city he feels he most identifies with, having gone to school there and worked there.
Obama wasn’t humble in bringing up all the good change his administration has been responsible for: the legalisation of gay marriage nationwide, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, healthcare reform, wealth inequity, and saving America from the recession it had gotten itself into when he was first sworn in. He also had laudatory things to say about the influence of his wife Michelle and his daughters on his Presidency.
He ended on an inspirational note
As Obama wrapped up, he said, “My fellow Americans, it has been the honour of my life to serve you.” He also promised that he “won’t stop” and that he’ll be “right there with you as a citizen” as Trump takes over. He told the crowd that he had “one final ask of you as your President,” and in an inspiring note to end his Presidency on, he repeated the ask he first made when he went into office eight years ago: “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change...but in yours.” #Celebrities