Obama goes home to give farewell address


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

President Obama takes the stage before speaking to a crowd of 6,000 on Central Campus on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. 

Rachel Ori

President Barack Obama bid farewell on Tuesday evening, giving his final address as president. 

Located in Chicago, Obama gave his address in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Opening with, “Hello, Chicago – it’s good to be home,” the president was met with cheers.

Obama began by thanking all Americans, ranging from his supporters to those who disagreed with him, for their open communication with him over the years. He thanked them for making him a better president, and a better man.

Moving on, the president touched on the importance of change and the role that everyday citizens have in creating that change.

Speaking about his time before politics, he said that through his time working with church groups, he realized that change won’t happen unless everyday citizens get involved in their government and come together to demand change.

“… Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it,” Obama said. 

Taking a turn, the president went on to reference the Constitution and the vision that the Founders had for America.

Noting every citizens’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Obama said, “… We the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.”

Obama took the opportunity to list some of the progress that has taken place the past eight years. Ranging from job growth, affordable health care and marriage equality, Obama gave credit to the people.

“Because of you, America is a better, stronger place than when we started,” Obama said.

The fight for a united democracy was a main point of the address. The president referenced the fight for equality, whether it be economic, social or political, with the idea that further work needs to be done to achieve these equalities for a more balanced democracy.

Bringing up race, Obama mentioned that, while he has seen significant progress in racial relations in his lifetime, work still needs to be done.

Looking forward, Obama urged Americans to uphold laws against discrimination, while adding that laws alone won’t lead to justice.

Referencing Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Obama said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Moving on, Obama hinted at the political discourse witnessed in this past election cycle.

“Politics is a battle of ideas … but without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point … we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible,” Obama said.

Ending his portion regarding democracy, the president said people must avoid taking democracy for granted, stating that that mindset will only threaten it.

Obama used this point to encourage all citizens to get involved and demand action from elected officials, drawing on America’s low voting rates. He described citizenship as a responsibility. 

Obama thanked the men and women serving the country, saying that it has been “the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.”

Ending the address, Obama thanked his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, and his two daughters. He also thanked Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. A special shout out went to the president’s staff, and to all of the organizers and volunteers who have believed in him.

Ending on an inspirational note, Obama said, “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”