Eight years ago in Chicago President Barack Obama has declared his first victory. Today, when he ascended the stage in Chicago crowds, cheered “four more years, four more years”, even as Obama tried to quiet the crowd who had to come to see off the man who had changed the face of America in the past eight years.
But, today he failed to quiet the crowd.
In choosing Chicago, Mr. Obama had earlier said he wanted to return to “where it all started” for him and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mr. Obama said that it was in Chicago as a young man, “still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for purpose in my life”, that he “witnessed the power of faith and dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss”.
“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged and they come together to demand it,” he said. “After eight years as your president, I still believe that.”
In his almost hour-long speech,
Obama never strayed from one message – that the US democracy is what it is because of it’s inclusiveness and it’s promise of equality of opportunity for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual identity. The focus of speech couldn’t have been clearer as Americans are heading for a four-year Trump presidency
It was also an elegantly worded warning: about the country’s broken politics, its naked partisanship, its stark economic inequalities, its social and racial dislocation.
“Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system… we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. ” Obama said.
The US President stressed the importance of economic and social equality, not for a select few, but for all. Again here, the reference was to Trump who has talked about Mexican immigrants being “rapists”
That equality that the US constitution has granted has yet to be fully realized, Obama said.
Obama also talked about foreign policy and how foreign powers can also be a threat to US democracy.
Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors,” Obama said, clearly referring to US intelligence agencies confirming that Russia hacked the US elections to Trump’s advantage.
Trump has publicly expressed his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and has dismissed claims of any hacking. In fact, Trump has done it very publicly, thanks to his prolific use of microblogging site Twitter, which appears to be the President-elect’s favorite means of communication.
This speech highlighted a stark difference between the two men: Obama’s preference for delivering reflective and historically literate orations, and Trump’s penchant for expressing himself in Tweets.