President Barack Obama will deliver his farewell address to the country on January 10 in his former hometown of Chicago, where he gave his victory speech 8 years ago. There will be many tears (maybe some will be his) as we say good-bye.
Aside from the fact that Obama is the nation’s first African American president—an epic feat in itself—is the reality that his heart has always been with the people. And although he did not accomplish everything he set out to do, his achievements were extraordinary in light of what and who he had to work with. Actually, it’s amazing that he got anything done with the Republicans either stalling or fighting him tooth and nail on every piece of legislation he wanted to implement.
If he had not used executive orders to move his policies along, who knows where we would be?
When he speaks to America, it will no doubt be as a more mature and wiser man. Yet nothing in his original “hope and change” message shows any sign of diminishing. Obama, now 55, is just as hopeful as ever.
It was hard being the first black president, having to uphold so many high standards and expectations, balancing family and keeping his marriage intact while helping the downtrodden and defending the free world. It was no picnic staying sane and cool, while a few crazy Republicans questioned his religion and citizenship, and even blasted his wife and young daughters.
As civil as Obama is, it seems civility has vanished in America. The blatant disrespect that he has suffered has endeared him to millions of fans—anyone with a basic sense of decency, regardless of their political affiliations.
When Obama speaks next Tuesday, he will no doubt read a long list of achievements as our 44th president. He will talk about how he helped save America’s auto industry, which was literally drowning in debt. He’ll remind us how his administration brought in millions of new jobs and got folks working again.
He’ll talk about how Bin Laden was captured and killed under his leadership, and how, thanks to his presidency, 20 million people now have affordable health insurance. Sick people are no longer punished, having to pay more because of pre-existing illnesses and parents can keep kids on their insurance policies until age 26.
More than his legacy, however, many of us will simply miss the man. We will miss Obama, the cool-as-a-cucumber optimist with a great singing voice and a whole lot of swag. A man with grace, class, and intelligence who always took the high road, refusing to get down in the mud with Republican haters.
Now, some 8 years later, we find Obama has survived every dirty, nasty trick and comment thrown at him. He has been divinely protected, despite the mess-ups of a less than stellar Secret Service. And perhaps what is most endearing is while supporters taut him as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) presidents of our time, he insists that the credit belongs to us.
In his invitation to the farewell speech, he wrote: “So I hope you’ll join me one last time. Because, for me, it’s always been about you.”
The 2008 election was a game changer—one which inspired millions who never voted before (or even wanted to) to cast their ballots. It mobilized coalitions of people and renewed an interest in politics among so-called “nonpolitical” people.
So give yourself a bow. Despite Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, this country has proven that democracy is still alive and we can do miraculous things when we really want to. We can elect black presidents.
Thank you Mr. President. We will miss you!