Obama Bids Adieu


Kelsey Tice Nicholson

After eight long years in the White House, President Barack Obama finally delivered his farewell address in Chicago on Jan. 10, 2017. The address to the American people began after a solid minute and a half of nothing but energetic applause from the audience.
Obama began his speech by championing the idea of national unity that the founding fathers wrote about in the Preamble to the Constitution. He discussed how much this country has accomplished since he first entered the Oval Office. “If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history—if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11—if I had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens —if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change,” he said. He went on to discuss not only his views on several political controversies, but to subtly rebuke his successor’s stances on those issues as well. Among these topics were climate change, the barring of Muslims entering the country, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
Obama noted, “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclave.” His critics saw this and other statements made during the farewell address as thinly-veiled attacks on President-Elect Donald Trump and his platform. Still, Obama closed the event to rousing enthusiasm, both from his audience in Chicago’s McCormick Place and from viewers worldwide.
Overall, the nearly hour-long speech was empowering and reminiscent of Obama’s success in the White House. The President ended his address with a fond look back at the election of 2008, where his campaign slogan was “Yes, we can,” and said, “Yes, we did.”
Many in the audience were moved to tears at the end of Obama’s era, but the President remained optimistic about America’s future under President-Elect Donald Trump.