One Last Farewell

One Last Farewell

Alejandra Nogueira, News Writer

President Obama first took office on January 20, 2009, breaking the previous streak of white presidents. Some of his most well-known accomplishments while in his first term include passing the Health Care Reform Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and assassinating Osama Bin Laden. On January 20, 2013, President Obama was sworn into office for the second time. During his second term, Obama most notably worked towards reducing the number of soldiers in Afghanistan and combating climate change, going as far as issuing an executive order to limit carbon emissions.

Obama’s days in office are now dwindling, and a major change is on its way. “I’m kind of sad we won’t see him anymore, but I’m ready for something new,” sophomore Arian Monzon says. Many students share Monzon’s sentiment, as President Obama has been in office for the majority of students’ lives.

A tradition of farewell speeches was started by President George Washington which is still in practice today. On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, President Barack Obama took McCormick Place by storm with his final speech. “Yes, we can. Yes we did,” said Obama in his closing statement over the tumultuous cheering of the crowd. The speech was met with praise for the optimistic note it conveyed and its tear-jerking moment when he spoke fondly of his family.  

During the speech, President Obama took most of his time thanking the nation for the opportunity to serve and referenced some of his accomplishments while in office. He focused his attention on current economic battles that are being faced, discrimination of minorities, and the rebuilding of Democratic institutions. Obama also spoke out about religious persecution, specifically defending Muslims that are being targeted.  “That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion…When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer…It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.” He also alluded to the growing issue with gerrymandering–the practice of redrawing political boundary lines to favor a particular political party–and spoke about defending the Constitution. Within his farewell, the President also mentioned the preparation for a “smooth transition” to the President-elect, Donald Trump. Trump assumed the role of President on January 20, 2017, being the 45th president elected into office.

Although many were left content with the speech, numerous individuals criticized its hopeful tone and deemed it “unrealistic.”

“[The speech] didn’t move me,” Mr. Gary Holbrook stated simply. Critics were also left with the impression that the speech was too long and self-centered, going as far as to say it was egotistical. Other critics thought the speech poorly attempted to hide the failure to accomplish main goals during his first and second administration.

Now after an extensive eight years, the First Family finally prepares to leave the White House alongside their beloved dogs, Bo and Sunny.