What We Learned from Obama’s Farewell Address

On January 10, 2017, President Obama said goodbye to the nation and The White House when he gave his farewell address in front of millions. It was only fitting for him to give his address in Chicago, the town that started his career as a community organizer and in the state of Illinois in which he started his political career. In his speech, he talked about progress, unity and democracy. Here are a few highlights.

Our Democracy is Being Tested

“There have been moments throughout our history that threatened our solidarity. And the beginning of this century has been one of those times.”
With growing inequality, shifts in demographics and the plight of terrorism, it’s been hard to remember that our country is about democracy — where everyone has a voice and deserves a fair chance. This quote seems to highlight how divisive our country is recently on many topics and issues, and it’s great that Obama brought this to our attention.

Progress is Hard

Because our country has become so divided, progress has been uneven. “For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”

See below for a list of issues that have progressed in our country during Obama’s tenure.

But Our Country Pulled Through

In his speech, Obama outlined the progress our country has made as a whole in the past eight years. Our country’s progress has definitely been tested, especially since some issues received backlash. No matter how much backlash the issues received or how some steps forward resulted in steps back, our country has pulled through the toughness of it all.
If Obama had told us eight years ago that America would…

  • Reverse a The Great Recession, which was the longest economic downturn in the country since the Great Depression hit in 1929
  • Reboot the auto industry (remember the U.S. government program Cash for Clunkers, absurdly high gas prices and car company bailouts?)
  • Unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history with 54 straight months of job gains in the private sector
  • Open up a new chapter with the Cuban people by lifting the trade embargo
  • Shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot via the Iran Nuclear Deal
  • Take out Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of September 11, 2001.
  • Win marriage equality by making same-sex marriage legal throughout the entire country
  • Secure the right to health insurance for 20 million people

…we might have sad the sights were set a little too high. But just by looking at this list, you can see that our country made progress.

So, what’s the major theme of Obama’s address? It’s all about unity and progress. In his final remarks, Obama encouraged us to come together to overcome challenges to believe.
“Yes, we can. Yes, we did.”