Obama Farewell: Democracy needs you, says outgoing president

 

President Barack Obama has called on Americans to defend their democracy in his farewell speech in Chicago.

"By almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place" than it was eight years ago when he took office, he told thousands of supporters.

But he warned "democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted".

He implored Americans of all backgrounds to consider things from each other's point of view, saying "we have to pay attention and listen".

The country's first black president, now 55, was first elected in 2008 on a message of hope and change.

His successor, Donald Trump, has vowed to undo some of Obama's signature policies. He will be sworn into office on January 20.

Raucous chants of "four more years" from the crowd were brushed aside by the president. "I can't do that," he said with a smile. US presidents are limited to two terms by the constitution.

"No, no, no, no no," he said, when the crowd booed the prospect of  Trump replacing him.

Striking an upbeat tone, Obama said that the peaceful transfer of power between presidents was a "hallmark" of American democracy.

But, he outlined three threats to American democracy - economic inequality, racial divisions and the retreat of different segments of society into "bubbles", where opinions are not based on "some common baseline of facts".

"If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life," he said to laughter and applause.

In his closing remarks he said he had one final request for Americans as president: "I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change - but in yours."

Returning to Chicago, where he first declared victory in 2008, Obama delivered a mostly positive message to Americans after a divisive election campaign which saw to Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Obama said that young Americans - including those who worked on his campaigns, and who believe "in a fair, just, inclusive America" - left him feeling "even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started".

In choosing Chicago, Obama had earlier said he wanted to return to "where it all started" for him and First Lady Michelle Obama, instead of delivering the speech from the White House.

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There are 2 Comments

Agree with most of his speech content. After the utter mess inherited from the incompetent and unfortunate predecessor Obama virtually re-built USA and brought in fairness and uplifted the economy. Unfortunately the American people are being fooled again by the recent events. History will judge Obama as being one of the greatest Presidents of USA. Wish him and his lovely family the very best

President Obama will go down in history as the best President USA ever had. Some of the earlier Presidents have been slave owners, some have been inundated with scandals and some have been useless. President Obama had high aims and if the Congress had been co-operative or had he been white, he would have been able to achieve even more. Before him, USA under Bush had been riddled with war crimes, state sanctioned torture and more unsavoury actions. This was one of the reasons he was awarded the Nobel Peace Award a mere 9 months after taking office because he showed a promise to bring back world's respect back to USA. My gratitude to Barack and Michelle Obama for their humanitarian attitudes alone.

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