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A Presidential Goodbye

January 11, 2017 8:35 am

President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation last night from Chicago, where his political career began. He had some sage advice for the nation.

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Cstar1
Jan-11 7:03 AM

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Cstar1
Jan-11 7:05 AM

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1. The economy and inequality. “Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity,” the president said, calling inequality “corrosive to our democratic principles.” Without a “new social compact” improving education, the social safety net, and the tax code, he said, “the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.”

2. Racial tensions. While arguing that race relations have indeed been improving, Obama expressed some concern for how they could develop in the coming years. “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working 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,” he said. He argued that white Americans, black Americans, and other minorities should all try to change their “hearts” and have greater empathy for their neighbors. “We have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do.”

3. Polarization and closed-mindedness. Obama then argued that he feared Americans were growing too eager to retreat into their respective “bubbles” and talk only to those they agreed with. “Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there,” he said. “Without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”

4. Foreign threats — and whether the US can keep its values in responding to them. Moving on to foreign affairs, Obama said that both terrorists and autocrats were challenging the US-led international order, saying they represented “the fear of change,” “the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law,” or “a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.” But he added that he was even more concerned that America could abandon its values in response to those threats. “ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight,” he said.

5. Decaying democratic institutions. Obama’s “final point,” he said, was that “our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.” He argued, then, that all Americans must take on “the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions” — which he defined as working to improve voting accessibility, limiting money in politics, ensuring that ethics standards for public officials are upheld, and undoing gerrymandering of districts.

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Jan-11 7:08 AM

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"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 — with our participation and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured."
Jan-11 7:50 AM
Meandering Marbles (Kidmagnet)
Jan-11 8:23 AM

Meandering Marbles (Kidmagnet)

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