Barack Obama: 'Yes, we can' in 2008, 'Yes, we did' in 2017
US President Barack Obama yesterday gave an emotional farewell speech covering his eight years in office. Here are some excerpts:
"It's good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we've received over the past few weeks.
But tonight, it's my turn to say thanks. Whether we've seen eye to eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people - in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts - are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired and kept me going.
Every day, I learnt from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man."
"I first came to Chicago when I was in my early 20s, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life... It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.
This is where I learnt that change happens only when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together to demand it. After eight years as your president, I still believe that."
"For 240 years, our nation's call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It's what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It's what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organise.
It's why GIs gave 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."
HIS YEARS IN OFFICE
"If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto 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 Iran's nuclear weapons programme without firing a shot and take out the mastermind of 9/11; if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens - you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
But that's what we did. That's what you did. You were the change."
"Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarrelled and compromised, and 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 differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one."
"The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Healthcare costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we've made to our healthcare system - that covers as many people at less cost - I will publicly support it.
That, after all, is why we serve - to make people's lives better, not worse."
"All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.
If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don't look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children - because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America's workforce.
And our economy doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women."
"Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination - in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That's what our Constitution and highest ideals require.
But laws alone won't be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'"
RETREATING FROM REALITY
"None of this is easy. For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.
The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste - all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.
And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that's out there.
This trend represents a third threat to our democracy... without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we'll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.
It's not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it's self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you."
NEW WORLD ORDER
"That order is now being challenged - first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies and civil society itself as a threat to their power. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what's true and what's right.
ONE LAST REQUEST
"My fellow Americans, it has been the honour of my life to serve you. I won't stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you're young or 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. I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change - but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung 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 story is not yet written:
Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America."