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Obama delivers farewell speech

Obama delivers farewell speech

US President spoke in his adopted hometown of Chicago

IFM Correspondent

January 11, 2017: President Barack Obama bid goodbye to the nation on Tuesday. In his farewell address, he requested allies to keep the faith as president-elect Donald Trump assumes power.

Speaking from his adopted hometown of Chicago, Obama spoke frankly about the dangers posed by economic inequality, divisiveness and a lack of a ‘common baseline of facts’ in public discourse. He returned again and again to the importance of preserving and upholding democracy.

“I am asking you to believe not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours,” Obama said. “I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents: ...  Yes we can,” he said, voicing the familiar cadence from his first election. “Yes, we did. Yes, we can.”

Mindful of the apprehensions his followers are feeling ahead of Trump taking charge, Obama said transfer of power is the hallmark of an advanced society. “I committed to president-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me,” he said. “Because, it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.”

Joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia and Vice President Joe Biden, the President credited Chicago with playing a crucial role in his path to public service.

“I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties and I was still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for a purpose in my life,” Obama said.

While Obama said his election as the nation’s first black president inspired optimism towards a ‘post-racial America’, he added that such a vision ‘was never realistic’. He also warned economic divisions have intensified racial divisions.

Citing the growth of automation in displacing middle-class jobs in the future, Obama called for a new social compact ‘to guarantee all kids the education they need, to give workers the power to unionise for better wages, to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code’.

“If we don't create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in the years to come,” he said.

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