Tonight, Obama reminded us that
“Our Democracy is threatened whenever it is taken for granted.”
With those words, I urge us to action.
Many of us listened to Obama give his farewell speech tonight. And while Kleenex was celebrating their higher stock price, we thought back on accomplishments and forward to what faces us. Here are my random thoughts as I approach bed time.
On social media during the speech, I read tributes to our moments when we were proud to be an American during his presidency. I have a couple. I remember crying during his first acceptance speech in Chicago. I also remember holding newborn Annika during his speech about Sandyhook. With an infant in my arms, I cried (though that seems somewhat obvious at this point). He was angry. So angry that young children could be gunned down. So angry that our country could let that happen. Probably one of his most frustrating legacies is that he couldn’t pass gun control legislation. We clearly will not make progress in the next four years, but let’s be vigilant that states don’t ship away at the meager regulations that exist. (More on that later.)
Obama reminded us tonight:
Science and reason matter.
I fear so much in the coming four years, but a main anxiety is that science, what I live and breathe every day as a professor, will be demonized or at least questioned and belittled. I teach social science research methods. I hope to energize and empower students with the knowledge of how the sausage is made — how rigorous it is, how it should be trusted and how to question it.
But the main take-away if his speech tonight is that we can’t be complacent. He reminded us that opportunity is no longer a given in our society. There is no post-racial society. We risk disaffection and disappointment. He indirectly reminded us that the incoming administration holds values very different from his own — ones that could place our democracy at risk (my words not his).
Obama ended on optimism. He started his campaign with hope and ends his presidency on promise. He reminds us of his progress and what we can continue to fight for. We are inspired. So let’s be the citizens Obama asks of us. Let’s be active, energized. Let’s read, think, vote. Let’s march, write, attend meetings, organize.
And even run for office.
Yes we can.
P.S. – Total side note but NPR did a story today on Obama in the media before he was President. He sounded super nerdy. It was cute. Listen.
P.P.S. – Hugging Obama and Biden is awesome.