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On Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama addressed the nation one final time as its commander in chief.
In his hour-long address, Obama discussed many of his accomplishments over the last eight years, including the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, our nation’s economic growth, marriage equality, and even the death of Osama Bin Laden.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history… If I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11… If I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens—you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
He also noted that we still have a long way to go as a nation in terms of race relations, violence, and general understanding of one another.
After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago—you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children—because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.
There was also one topic that Obama touched upon, albeit in a sly way, that has everyone talking. That subject is President-elect Donald Trump.
Throughout his speech, Obama challenged the incoming president to do his best work for the nation on a multitude of topics. Obama also took the time to throw some shade his way with one sneaky comment about Donald Trump’s penchant for bullying people on social media. As Obama said,
If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life.
This is perhaps the best advice our 44th president could give to the 45th.
Obama then took that comment and gave it to all Americans as a call to arms to do better. He added,
If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose.
There was however one positive moment for Obama and Trump in the speech. When Obama noted the upcoming power change the crowd quickly began to boo to which Obama responded, “No, no, no, no, no.” One of the nation’s great strengths, Obama noted, “is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.”