UNITED States President Barack Obama made his farewell remarks last week as he steps down this week to make way for his successor, the Republican Donald Trump.
The Obamas campaigned hard for Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote even as the electoral college system worked in Trump’s favor.
In his speech, Obama outlined his administration’s successes in the past eight years.
He emphasized that it was the people’s ability to bring about change on their own that mattered. And even as it was the candidate of another party who was assuming his role, Obama pointed out that this was democracy at its best, at work.
Americans should not criticize their leaders without evaluating their own role in the choice of those leaders, he reminded the people.
Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered her own final speech at a gathering of educators. She underscored the importance of education and told her audience that anybody—regardless of color, gender, religion and disposition—could succeed if they worked had enough. She and her husband were proof of that.
As a result, social media has been gushing about the Obama couple who will leave the White House after two terms marked by decency. Aside from not figuring in a scandal of whatever nature, the Obamas are perceived as modern, progressive, even fun in their personal life as well as their professional one.
In the end, it is not that video of the First Lady rapping on the Internet or dancing on a TV show, or the image of the President shooting baskets or poking fun at his staff, that would linger. It is how they viewed and made people view the privilege of public service—and managed the transition from one administration to the next.
The Obamas champion diversity in America, because as the President pointed out, democracy requires a basic sense of solidarity. “For all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise and fall as one.”
It may just be the characteristic Obama eloquence, but it may also be the truth, not just in the US but in many other societies where diversity is—as it should be—celebrated.