President Barack Obama on Tuesday said
goodbye to the nation in a farewell address beamed live around the
world from his hometown of Chicago.
An emotional Obama called on Americans
to renew efforts to find common ground.
“Democracy does not require
uniformity,” he 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.”
He also called for the protection of
basic American values.
“Democracy can buckle when we give in
to fear,” Obama 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. That's why, for the
past eight years, I've worked to put the fight against terrorism on a
firm legal footing. That's why we've ended torture, worked to close
Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy
and civil liberties. That's why I reject discrimination against
Muslim Americans. That's why we cannot withdraw from global fights –
to expand democracy, and human rights, women's rights, and LGBT
rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how
expedient ignoring such values may seem.”
Obama included marriage equality in
listing his accomplishments of the last eight years.
“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,” Obama told the crowd. “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
“But that's what we did. That's what
you did. You were the change. You answered people's hopes, and
because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better,
stronger place than it was when we started,” he added.
Obama's voice quaked with emotion in
thanking Michelle Obama for her service.
“You took on a role you didn't ask
for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good
humor,” he said. “You made the White House a place that belongs