Its here! The day many around the globe have been dreading. Barack is officially saying goodbye.
The speech arrived at a surreal moment, 10 days away from his final day in the White House, Obama is enjoying his highest approval ratings in over six years while his successor, President-elect Donald Trump has been besieged with unflattering headlines and ever more discouraging poll numbers.
Amid all the speculation and apprehension, Obama gave one of the most memorable final major addresses from a president in recent history.
Here are eight of the biggest takeaways from the speech people will be talking about for a long time:
1) Obama plans to defend his accomplishments
Some of the president’s biggest applause lines came when he doubled down his legislative and diplomatic victories (from his stewardship of the economy during the Great Recession to his outreach to Cuba and Iran), almost daring his successors to undermine them at their own risk.
For instance, he continued to champion his imperiled Affordable Care Act (which has by most calculations brought the U.S. uninsured rate to a historic low) and argued that if his anyone ever crafted a plan that was more cost effective and provided health care to more people he himself would endorse it.
2) Obama is committed to taking down Trump-ism, if not Trump himself
The president’s few words specifically mentioning his successor were gracious (even amid boos from the crowd in Chicago), but the bulk of his oratory read as a defiant rebuke of the controversial political ideology that the president-elect espoused both during and since the general election.
Obama made it clear that he will not tolerate discrimination against Muslims or undocumented immigrants, that he will stand in opposition to any efforts to divide Americans along the lines of race, gender, sexuality or economic class, and he defended those who have made their dissent known through peaceful protest, arguing “they’re not demanding special treatment, but equal treatment.”
3. Obama will push for a renewed commitment to public service and lawmakers that reflect the country
Obama hinted at him taking a personal role in reversing that trend but also eagerly encouraged his supporters to seek office themselves and made the argument that the process of serving had enriched him.
“Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America — and in Americans — will be confirmed. Mine sure has been.”
4. Obama believes that the millennial generation will preserve and protect his values
A pointer for all millenials, Obama sees a lot to be optimistic about in one of his most devoted bloc of supporters — the youth.
“This generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.
5. Obama’s all mushy inside
A tearful President Obama brought the house down with his heartfelt tributes to his staff, Vice President Joe Biden (who he called a “brother), wife first lady Michelle Obama (whose first name alone brought along a standing ovation) and his now teenage daughter Malia and Sasha. Despite clearly taking great pride in his formidable record as president, Obama calling being their father the “proudest” achievement of his life. And with a playful callback to his 2008 campaign slogan “Yes We Can,” Obama then descended into the crowd personally greeting and thanking the throngs in attendance. Although he has no more campaigns to run he pledged to be “right there with you” as a private citizen.
So at the end of it all, it was a great run for the President, and we as Kenyans will definitely never forget him.
— Kodi Gaddis (@KodiGaddis) January 11, 2017
Courtesy of nbcnews.com.