After eight years of service to his country, Barack Obama addressed the citizens of the United States one last time last night during his farewell address and it literally broke my heart. Not only is he America’s first president of colour, but he is progressive, loving, and a true leader. Despite all of the hate and nasty rhetoric prompted by future president, Donald Trump, President Obama’s farewell address actually gave me a little hope for the future, and hope that my generation will keep our country progressing.
While watching his farewell address, I found myself unable to fight the tears and began to reluctantly think about the future of my country. Are we going to go backwards? Am I going to have to fight to regain my freedom and respect as a woman? My immediate answer was yes. It’s so easy to replay president-elect Donald Trump’s and his vice presidential pick, Mike Pence, words about defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing the right to abortion, and condemning sexual assault.
However, in a time when I question the fate of my country, President Obama’s farewell addressed reminded me that I’m not the only one who wants to continue moving our country forward. Even when our next president has admitted to sexual assault and has repeatedly spoken out against minorities in America, it is clear that the fire burning for change is not out.
So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are…That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem.
Yes, our next president has prompted divided and hateful behaviour in the United States, but that doesn’t mean he can do anything to suppress my feelings and my dreams for my country. Donald Trump is a hater, but there will always be people that will want to tear you down, and there is no reason that his choices and thoughts have to define a country that will be mine and belong to my generation soon.
I’ve spent eight years growing up with President Obama. When he was first elected, I was only nine years old. Now I am 17, and soon will have the power to vote. Even though he’s leaving office, President Obama’s ideals and slogan, “Yes We Can”, will continue to reign true amongst millions in the United States. Donald Trump is the next president, but he is only one man and there are millions of people, including myself, who are ready to continue fighting for all that Barack Obama’s fought for.
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, President Obama, for reminding me that I am not alone in this fight and reminding me of all we’ve accomplished over these past eight years. We promise not to let you down and will not let what you’ve done for us be undone. Obama out.