President Obama is on his way out of his second term. Now, he’s coming home to say goodbye.
On January 10th, President Obama will give a farewell address from Chicago to recount the successes of his administration and offer remarks regarding how the United States can move into the future. The President is set to give his remarks before Donald Trump takes office on January 20th, 2017. He will likely use this speech to restate his progressive vision for the United States.
In recent weeks, President Obama has taken steps to secure his legacy and protect his signature reforms from Trump’s administration, especially regarding healthcare, foreign policy, and climate change. This farewell address is likely an opportunity for him to remind Americans of his belief that, as he stated in his email to the White House listserv, “together, we change this country for the better.”
In light of the incoming administration and the divisive, racist rhetoric of President-elect Donald Trump, many Americans feel concerned about what is to come. President Obama will likely not use this moment to say anything that could be perceived as challenging to the next administration, but may use this platform to ease the fears of those who Trump’s campaign has targeted.
But what could he say, really?
President Obama has shown us that he is more committed to America’s institutions than to justice in this country. While I feel an unending sense of pride in our first black president and truly believe that his is a good man, I am weary at the language around a “peaceful transfer of power” because I expect very little peace in our politics for the next four years.
Trump has done all he can to pit Americans against each other, capitalizing on racial fears and hatred. While I am hopeful for the new year, I have learned, time and again, to believe what Trump says and prepare accordingly. President Obama, while perhaps limited in what he can appropriately say and do as president, must somehow communicate to the American public that the next four years will demand a politics of resistance, rather than complicity and apathy.
President Obama’s time in office certainly ends on a sour note for all invested in his policies. However, if President Obama is truly honest about the needs of our nation he can end his tenure with a bang, instead of a whimper.
The President needs to uplift those struggling in poverty and remember those discriminated against due to race, gender, and sexual orientation. The President also needs to clarify the danger of Donald Trump, his racist rhetoric and policies, and the white nationalist politics that placed him in office. Only then can the hope stirred by Obama’s presidency possibly energize those ready to resist Trump’s administration.
The President’s speech is to be given at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. You can watch or find out about tickets here.
Photo Credits: Flickr