As we round the corner into President Barack Obama’s final week as President of the United States, the country is preparing for the arrival of an administration run by brazen and divisive President-Elect Donald Trump. As the reality of the incoming president’s ties to Russia and highly controversial cabinet appointments continue to surface, it’s safe to say that a large number of Americans will be sad to see their charismatic leader step down.
Last night, President Obama summed up his hopeful and progressive eight-year White House tenure with an inspirational farewell address in his hometown of Chicago. During the nearly one-hour speech, Obama listed off many of the tasks accomplished during his reign, from boosting the country’s economy to healthcare reform. The parting president graciously thanked his supporters for their role in helping him achieve these goals.
"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, and 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 — you might have said our sights were set a little too high,” Obama said during the farewell address.
While the speech was coated with optimism and reflections on his time as a community organizer and public servant, President Obama also addressed the dangerous political division that has formed throughout the country. In the tail end of the address, he focused on the polarized bubbles that we tend to have trap ourselves in, only seeking information and views that confirm our own preexisting biases.
The farewell address primarily revolved around the accomplishments of the Obama Administration, but the sitting president did state again that he intended to make the transition for Trump as smooth as possible. Even though the mention of the incoming President-Elect’s name drew boos from the jam-packed crowd, Obama quelled their dissent by stating, "In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: The peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next." President Obama also gave a tearful thanks to his family and Vice President Joe Biden during the emotional speech.
In the waning months of Obama’s presidency, the Commander-in-Chief has dealt with the fallout of alleged Russian interference with the election, battled ticket buying bots on Ticketmaster, continued his commitment prison reform, while also somehow finding the time to prepare the country for the upcoming transition into the Trump’s presidency.
President Obama will undoubtedly go down in history as one the greatest leaders in modern American history. While it remains unclear how much of the administration's progress will be unraveled by Trump and the Republicans, there’s one sentiment that most of us can agree on: We’ll miss you Barry.