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Friday, January 13, 2017

Obama's farewell address


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/us/politics/obama-farewell-address-speech.html?_r=0


Hard not to quote the whole thing but here are some favorite parts---
This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it....It's the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.


On inequality

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.

He had good advice for many groups in the context, but this hit home because I've heard people I know say these things in the course of my life and I know they are untrue and unjust and those things make me angry. Injustice makes me angry like few things do.

For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn't suddenly vanish in the '60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they're not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they're not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.

The key. And here he begins talking to everyone as in both parties, saying hard things, but necessary, where before he was talking everyone as in the nation.

So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

Hitting the nail on the head

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we'll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But 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.

So many good points, stressing participation, we need that right now.

And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power - with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

Compare with Trump's press conference that happened a day after where he talks incessantly about how he won, how it felt to win, what he did to win, rather than his plans to unite the country, release tax return, right wrongs in a divisive campaign, accept reality, plans for his term in office. . . 

(Writing this post on Obama's address and the next on Trump's press conference on the same day, several days late, apologies!)


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