The Final “Thanks, Obama”


The election is long over, but it seemed as if President Obama was back on the campaign trail as he gave his final farewell address on Jan. 10, 2017. This time, however, he wasn’t arguing a political agenda, he was restoring faith in a democracy many of us believed was broken.

This isn’t to say that Obama didn’t masterfully insert subtle digs at Trump’s policies, because he definitely protected immigrants from ire, frowned upon those who cut corporate taxes while complaining about deficits from domestic spending, and even said “the fight against chauvinism…is of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism.” (Trump, I’m looking at you) However, the touchstone of Obama’s farewell was not buried in the details of government policy, because we see that on the news everyday. The message that resonated with every American, Trump and Clinton supporters alike, was the urgency to unite and control their future with a grassroots effort.

The President Elect was only mentioned once in the entire speech, and only for the purpose of reminding the American people that there would be a smooth transition after his audience booed at the mention of the upcoming inauguration. Obama didn’t offer his advice or political views to Trump; instead, he bestowed the fate of America on to the people themselves. Not once did he affirm Trump’s leadership, instead he argued that we will lead ourselves with “Yes We Did. Yes We Can.”

Understanding that many Americans do not feel relief with the incumbent President elect, but rather unprecedented fear for the upcoming four years, Obama incited a new sense of hope in his viewers.

“If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself,” he said. “Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.”

Obama reminded us that the next four years are simply an opportunity to push for our own beliefs, regardless of whether the new President will agree with us. He knows we believe in a “fair, and just, and inclusive America” and that if we all push for change, it won’t matter who is at the top.

The efficacy of Obama’s presidency can be debated for a lifetime; I personally believe he incited great improvements that accounted for the different walks of life we house in this nation. Under his leadership, LGBT marriage was made legal, 20 million more people were insured under Obamacare, an unprecedented Iran nuclear deal was signed and so many more landmark achievements. However, the point of this speech was not to convince the people he was a great leader, it was to emphasize the power of the everyday citizen in the next four years.

So, for the last time, Thanks Obama. These next four years will not be easy for a good number of American people, but Obama reminded us that divisive rhetoric, or even actions, from one administration will never overshadow a true democratic nation of citizens who are willing to fight for what they deserve.