With just nine days remaining in his presidency, American President Obama on Tuesday night outlined his achievements in the White House and told Americans that U.S. democracy is under threat.
In his almost hour-long speech, a visibly emotional Mr. Obama argued that the country is at a pivotal point in its history — and that forces beyond our control are threatening American democracy. What will keep the country together, he said, is a sense of “solidarity.”
However, When will Obama leave the White House? Mr Obama and his family will leave the White House for the final time on inauguration day on January 20, 2017.
The 55-year-old has hinted that he will spend more time working with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an initiative which improves the lives of poor black and Latino boys.
The speech seemed at times squarely aimed at his successor, President-elect Donald Trump — despite the fact that Mr. Obama said Mr. Trump’s name just one time.
“There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity — the beginning of this century has been one of those times,” Obama said. “A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but they’re testing our democracy as well.”
Mr. Obama acknowledged the tradition of a peaceful transition of power, saying he was committed to making it the “smoothest possible.”
“In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next,” he said, to boos from the crowd. “I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.”
He said it’s normal and understandable for people to disagree on the best path forward for the country — but outlined three potent forces working to challenge American democracy that will require unity of purpose going forward.
One major threat, he said, is that of rising economic inequality and concern that government “only serves the interests of the powerful.”
“Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks that want to get into the middle class,” he said. “But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles.”
The second major threat to American democracy, Mr. Obama said, is the growing tension over race and diversity in the country.
Wiping back tears, Mr. Obama thanked his family and Vice President Joe Biden. First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia Obama both appeared to crying as well.
To Michelle Obama, he said his wife has been not just a wife and mother but “my best friend.” “You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody,” he said. “And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.”
As for his daughters, Sasha and Malia, Mr. Obama said they “wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily.” Sasha was absent from the speech.
He also thanked Vice President Joe Biden, saying choosing him as a running mate is the first and “best” decision he made in 2008 and saying that he considers Biden a “brother.”
At the end of his speech, Mr. Obama came back to the words that became a rallying cry for his 2008 campaign: “Yes We Can.”