Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Farewell Address


I watched President Obama make his farewell address to the nation last evening and I realized that I may be watching the end of an era in American politics.

The speech was elegant and well spoken. There were no "off the cuff" slanders against any particular group of people. The speech was focused upon inclusion and presenting a positive view of America and the President's term in office. I found it amusing that at one point the assembled crowd broke into a chant of "4 more years."

I was particularly impressed with his words about the Constitution. 

Note: The excerpts from President Obama's speech are from the New York Times.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

I am a huge supporter of the Constitution. I was pleased with his references to "We, the People." The united States is, after all, a country founded upon the idea of "We, the People . . . "

I also believed that the President's summation was spot on:

And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans — especially so many young people out there — to believe that you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.
Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.
The farewell address was presented in superior fashion, even when hecklers tried to disrupt the speech, Obama's grace and forbearance was evident--he simply continued with his remarks until the hecklers were subdued or got bored.

I found it very interesting and revealing that President Obama ended his speech by reminding everyone of his words from the election of 2008, where the catch phrase was "We Can" his almost final words were:
Yes, we can.
Yes, we did.
Yes, we can.
These words echo the final words of President Reagan's Farewell Address presented on January 11. 1989:

My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
  
I wonder, will we be so optimistic in another eight years?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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