Read The Full Text Of Obama’s Farewell Address

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President Barack Obama devoted his final address to the nation Tuesday night, addressing such issues as climate change, foreign policy and health care.

Obama reflected on the accomplishments of his administration, but also issued a call to action for citizens going forward during his speech, which he delivered in front of a large crowd in Chicago.

Below, read Obamas full statements as delivered, according to a transcript provided by the White House :

Chicago! Its good to be home! Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. All right, everybody sit down. Were on live Tv here. Ive got to move. You can tell that Im a lame duck because nobody is following instructions. Everybody have a seat.

My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well wishes that weve received over the past weeks. But tonight, its my turn to say thanks. Whether we have ensure eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people, in living rooms and in schools, at farms, on factory floors, at diners and on remote military outposts – those conversations are what have maintained me honest, and maintained me inspired, and maintain me going. And every day, I have learned from you. You built me a better President, and you built me a better human.

So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early 20 s. And I was still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for a purpose in my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of shut steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working man in the face of fight and loss.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

OBAMA: I cant do that .

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

OBAMA: This is where I learned that change merely occurs when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.

After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And its not just my notion. Its the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experimentation in self-government. Its the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, autonomy, and the pursuit of happiness. Its the insisting that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through its own instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

What a radical notion. A great gift that our Founders devoted to us: The freedom to chase our individual dreamings through our sweat and drudgery and imagination, and the imperative to strive together, as well, to achieve a common good, a greater good.

For 240 years, our nations call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. Its what led patriots to prefer republic over totalitarianism, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. Its what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande. Its what pushed females to reach for the ballot. Its what powered employees to coordinate. Its why GIs devoted their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan. And why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs, as well.

So thats what we mean when we say America is exceptional not that our nation has been flawless from the beginning, but that we have shown the capacity to change and induce life better for those who follow. Yes, our progression has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. Its always been contentious. Sometimes its been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all and not just some.

If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our automobile industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Irans nuclear weapon program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11 if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the human rights of health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens, if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But thats what we did. Thats what you did.

You were the change. You answered peoples hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy.


OBAMA: No , no , no , no , no the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next. I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because its up to all of us to make sure our government can help us gratify the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Globe. Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if everything of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests, assistance restore the sense of common objectives that we so badly require right now.

Thats what I want to focus on tonight: The country of our democracy. Understand, democracy does not involve homogeneity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward changes, were all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our history that threatens that solidarity. And the beginning of this century has been one of those periods. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces havent merely tested our security and our prosperity, but are testing our democracy, as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and generate good chores, and protect our homeland. In other words, it will determine our future.

To begin with, our democracy wont work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. And the good news is that today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a 10 -year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And Ive said and I mean it if anyone can put together a scheme that is demonstrably better than the improvements weve made to our health systems and that covers as many people at less expense, I will publicly support it.

Because that, after all, is why we serve. Not to score phases or take credit, but to induce peoples lives better.

But for all the real progress that weve built, we know its not sufficient. Our economy doesnt work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class. Thats the economic debate. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic ideal. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many households, in inner cities and in rural counties, have been left behind the laid-off factory worker; the waitress or health care employee whos just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills convinced that video games is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful thats a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

But there are no quick fix to this long-term trend. I concur, our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocations wont come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class chores obsolete.

And so were going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now, and induce more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from this new economy dont avoid their obligations to the country thats built their very success possible.

We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we cant be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we dont generate opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progression will merely sharpen in years to come.

Theres a second threat to our democracy and this one is as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. Now, Ive lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago , no matter what some folks tell. You can see it not just in statistics, you see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.

But were not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do. If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then employees of all tints are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy recede further into their private enclaves. If were unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, merely because they dont look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of Americas workforce. And we have shown that our economy doesnt have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

So if were going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold statutes against discrimination in hire, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system. That is what our Constitution and our highest ideals involve.

But statutes alone wont be enough. Hearts must change. It wont change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction Atticus Finch who said You never truly understand a person until you consider things from his point of viewuntil you climb into his scalp and walk around in it.

For blacks and other minority groups, it entails tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like hes got advantages, but has ensure his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention, and listen.

For white Americans, it entails acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim crow didnt abruptly vanish in the 60 s that when minority groups voice discontent, theyre not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, theyre not demanding special therapy but the equal rights that our Founders promised.

For native-born Americans, it entails reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, nearly word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles who it was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasnt weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers espoused this nations creed, and this nation was strengthened.

So regardless of the station that we occupy, we all have to try harder. We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

And thats not easy to do. For too many of us, its become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of adore, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our premises. The rise of naked partisanship, and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste all this attains this large sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that “were starting” accepting only datum, whether its true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.

And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. But politics is a battle of ideas. Thats how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different aims, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your adversary might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter then were going to keep talking past each other, and well induce common ground and compromise impossible.

And isnt that part of what so often attains politics dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when were cutting taxes for firms? How do we excuse ethical lapsings in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? Its not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; its self-defeating. Because, as my mother used to say, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In merely eight years, weve halved our dependence on foreign oil; weve doubled our renewable energy; weve led the world of reaching agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children wont have time to debate the existence of climate change. Theyll be busy dealing with its effects: more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees attempting sanctuary.

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to address the problem. But to simply deny their own problems not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.

It is that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that built us an economic powerhouse the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.

Its that spirit a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might that allowed us to defy the seduce of fascism and tyranny during the course of its Great Depression; that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other republics, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but built on principles the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion, and speech, and assembly, and an independent press.

That order is now being challenged first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who assure free markets and open republics and and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who appear or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a notion that the sword or the firearm or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of whats true and whats right.

Because of the extraordinary fortitude of our men and women in uniform, because of our intelligence officers, and law enforcement, and envoys who support our troops, no foreign terrorist organization has enabled us to schemed and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years. And although Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists including bin Laden. The global alliance were resulting against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.

And to all who serve or have served, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief. And we all owe you a deep debt of gratitude.

But protecting our way of life, thats not just the job of our military. Republic can buckle when we give in to fear. So, just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, “were supposed to” guard against a weakening of the values that induce us who we are.

And thats why, for the past eight years, Ive worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. Thats why weve objective torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. Thats why I repudiate discrimination against Muslim Americans, who are just as patriotic as we are.

Thats why we cannot withdraw from big global fightings to expand democracy, and human rights, and womens rights, and LGBT rights. No matter how imperfect our efforts , no matter how expedient ignore such values may seem, thats part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own liberties will eventually be threatened.

So lets be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Challengers like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world unless we give up what we stand for and turning ourselves into merely another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point: Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for awarded. All of us, regardless of party, should be hurling ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced republics, we should be building it easier , not harder, to election. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of fund in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should describe our congressional districts to encourage legislators to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

But remember , none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, irrespective of which way the pendulum of power happens to be sway.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But its truly merely a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, devote it power. We, the people, devote it meaning. With our participation, and with the choices that we induce, and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our liberties. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. Thats up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and autonomy, but from different causes and from different one-quarters much aches will be takento weakened in your minds the conviction of this truth. And so we have to preserve this truth with jealous nervousnes; that we should reject the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties that induce us one.

America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character arent even willing to enter into public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are ensure not just as misguided but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without investigating our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task weve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward changes, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important point office in a democracy: Citizen. Citizen.

So, you assure, thats what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when theres an election , not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If youre tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If youre disappointed by your elected official, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Depict up. Dive in. Stay at it.

Sometimes youll win. Sometimes youll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in other people, that can be a risk, and there will be periods when the process will frustrate you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, and to see it up close, telling you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America and in Americans will be confirmed.

Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, Ive ensure the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I have mourned with mourning households searching for answers, and saw grace in a Charleston church. Ive ensure our scientists help a paralyzed human regain his sense of touch. Ive ensure wounded warriors who at phases were given up for dead walk again. Ive ensure our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their ways. Ive ensure the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.

So that faith that I placed all those years ago , not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change that faith has been rewarded in ways I could not have possibly imagined. And I hope your faith has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home, you were there with us in 2004, in 2008, 2012 perhaps you still cant believe we pulled this whole thing off. Let me tell you, youre not the only ones.

Michelle Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, daughter of the South Side for the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didnt ask for and you built it your own, with grace and with grit and with style and good humour. You built the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And the new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. So you have built me proud. And you have built the country proud.

Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young lady. You are smart and you are beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that Ive done in my life, I am most proud to be your papa.

To Joe Biden the scrappy child from Scranton who became Delawares favorite son you were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best. Not merely because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained brothers and sisters. And we love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great exhilarations of our lives.

To my remarkable personnel: For eight years and for some of you, a whole lot more I have drawn from your energy, and every day I tried to reflect back what you displayed heart, and character, and idealism. Ive watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, “youve never” let Washington get the better of you. You guarded against cynicism. And the only thing that attains me prouder than all the good that weve done is the thought of all the amazing things that youre going to achieve from here.

And to all of you out there every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and inhaled the hard work of change you are the best advocates and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will be forever grateful. Because you did change the world. You did.

And thats why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans, it has inspired so many Americans especially so many young person out there to believe that you can make a difference to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.

Let me tell you, this generation coming up unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic Ive ensure you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and merely, and inclusive America. You know that constant change has been Americas hallmark; that its not something to fear but something to embrace. You are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. Youll soon outnumber all of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I wont stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether youre young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. Im asking you to believe. Not in my they are able to bring about change but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that notion whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sing by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose narrative is not yet written: Yes, we can.

Yes, we did. Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. May God continue to bless the United States of America .

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