President Obama bids adieu with an emotional speech
In his final speech as US president after eight years in power, Barack Obama launched an emotional defense of his legacy as president as he prepares to hand over the reigns to President-elect Donald Trump in 10 days.
During his valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago he outlined some of his administration’s biggest triumphs – including job creation, thawing relations with Cuba, the death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, marriage equality and the right to health insurance for another 20 million Americans.
“Democracy does not require uniformity,” Obama said. “Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as 45th President of the United States, Obama acknowledged that the nation’s progress had been “uneven” – but said the country “strives for forward motion and a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, not just some”.
“Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear,” he said. “So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”
Obama said that young Americans – including those who worked on his campaigns, and who believe “in a fair, just, inclusive America” – left him feeling “even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started”.
“After eight years as your President, I still believe that,” he went on. “And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.”
As he leaves the White House, President Obama is viewed favourably by 57% of Americans, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll