Obama Wishes a Final Farewell


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President Barack Obama delivers his final farewell speech on Jan. 10, 2017.

Jacob Strier, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday Jan. 10, American citizens watched as Barack Obama stood humbly in front of a colossal Presidential seal in Chicago as he delivered his final major speech in office as Commander-in-Chief . Addressing an audience that consisted largely of the supporters that helped launch him to the Oval Office in 2008, Obama discussed both his thoughts on the current state of the nation and the country’s uncertain future. The twentieth of January will mark the end to his historic presidency, which many say made strides for racial equality, and the first black President will be exiting office with a 52% approval rating; just shy of ninety years after the birth of Martin  Luther King.

During his last few months in office, Obama campaigned vigorously against a Trump victory. Although, the President-elect was mentioned only once in Obama’s farewell speech. Obama said, “I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as Bush did for me.” While the two leaders have disagreed on the majority of issues, Obama and Trump have met and spoken, and the two are facilitating a peaceful transition of executive power.

The outgoing President remarked on some of the domestic aspects of his presidency that he sees as benchmarks of his legacy. These include overseeing the economic recovery from the 2008 recession, and Obamacare. On his international track record, Obama spoke about the danger of terrorism and the need to fight the threat of extremism without violating constitutional ideals. On the topic of the Middle East, he discussed his reduction of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, these actions were set against the darker backdrop of new American military fronts in Yemen, Libya, and Syria, and the latest issue of ISIS.  

Summarizing many of the issues that today’s citizens face, Obama remarked, “The beginning of this century has [seen]…A shrinking world, growing inequality, demographic change and the specter of terrorism—these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well.” Obama was addressing a heavily divided post-election nation: both along the lines of political difference and racial polarity. As the American people prepare to accept a new President who represents greatly different ideas and philosophy, Obama included a nuanced bit of advice in his words, “…Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world—unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.”
In the same city where Obama made one of his first speeches at President-elect in 2008, Barack and his family are leaving the Oval Office after an eight year stretch. While his achievements are widely debated, it is not questionable that Obama has made an important mark in American history and will remain a significant former President of our nation.