By Laura Demée Jan. 24, 2017
Local News Reporter
President Barack Obama giving his Farewell Address at the McCormick Place in Chicago, last Tuesday night. (Photo by Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)
In a room filled with 20,000 Americans, all teary eyed eyewitnesses of uncertainty, one individual was able to instill a sense of security within them. Waiting patiently as the crowd provided a warm welcome, he smiled it knowing it would be one of the very last.
President Obama delivered his farewell speech at 8PM Eastern time, January 10th, at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. During the 50 minute speech, multiple topics were covered, such as progress in fighting climate change and defeating ISIS. However, his thesis on the threats to our democracy remained the biggest takeaway.
The speech was divided up into four threats to our democracy: no sense of economic opportunity, race as a divisive force, retreating to the “bubble”, and taking democracy itself for granted.
Within each topic he covered the progresses and setbacks we’ve endured, but remained optimistic of the America to come: “Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, not just some.” The President urges for this idea to stay present in the minds of Americans as there is a transition of power from Democrats to Republicans.
Hearing the chant, “Four More Years!” Obama reminded his citizens of the peaceful transition of power from one President to the next. Although many Americans are concerned about a Trump Administration, a forward moving nation means getting involved in issues one is passionate about. “Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders agreed, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same.” This was a message to our extremely polarized congress.
Interviewing two of McMahon’s own, Amanda Barker (‘17) and Brendan Murtha (‘17), both offered their opinions on the Obama tenure in relation to the younger generation.
Murtha (‘17) affirmed in his interview with PrideTime that, “The role model he's become to millions of young Americans, whether they're struggling with racial identity, trying to make it on the streets of Chicago, or merely fighting for causes they believe in is almost unbelievably significant. His success defined a generation, and his optimism and forward-thinking has had ramifications all over the world.”
Agreeing that Obama was one of the greatest presidents of all time, Barker (‘17) was grateful for the executive order he placed on stricter background checks pertaining to gun control, especially living in CT and being friends of Sandy Hook victims. However, there is always something more to be done: “I would’ve liked to see Obama do more to fight Climate Change. Given that the U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon in the world, I wish he would’ve been able to implement a carbon tax.”
Obama represented the US at the Paris climate conference in December of 2015 having the US join the Paris agreement along with 194 other countries. The agreement states the following:
“ The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” To achieve this, every country must do its part to lower the global temperature and part of that can be done by lowering carbon emissions.
Although President Obama wasn’t able to accomplish everything on his agenda like enacting a carbon tax, but he was able to fix an economy that was on the brink of collapse, by presiding over the longest stretch of economic growth and job creation in the history of the country. In addition he was able to pass the Affordable Care Act, which has provided 20 million people with health insurance and urged the Supreme Court to rule same sex marriage the law of the land.
Thanks Obama, and let us remember your presidency as it goes down in History.