One of the greatest orators of our time, President Obama gave his farewell address last night. Personally (as a former speech and debate kid) I've always enjoyed watching his speeches, POTUS has mastered the art of conveying his message as leader of the free world while allowing his personality and sincerity to shine through.
During his address, he touted the successes of his administration:
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history -- (applause) -- if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran's nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11 -- (applause) -- if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens --- (applause) -- if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that's what we did. (Applause.) That's what you did
President Obama also reiterated that he would be available to ease the transition of power:
In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy.
AUDIENCE: Nooo --
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no, no, no -- the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next. (Applause.) I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. (Applause.) Because it's up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.
President Obama also directly addressed the division in our country by encouraging us all to try to see things from another's perspective:
For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face -- not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he's got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention, and listen. (Applause.)
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn't suddenly vanish in the '60s -- (applause) -- that when minority groups voice discontent, they're not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, they're not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our Founders promised. (Applause.)
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles -- who it was said we're going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn't weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation's creed, and this nation was strengthened. (Applause.)
Looking back at President Obama's run in 2008, he always looked to the youth and last night he spoke directly to millennials as they will be the torch bearers moving forward:
And that's why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans, it has inspired so many Americans -- especially so many young people out there -- to believe that you can make a difference -- (applause) -- to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.
Let me tell you, this generation coming up -- unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic -- I've seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America. (Applause.) You know that constant change has been America's hallmark; that it's not something to fear but something to embrace. You are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You'll soon outnumber all of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands. (Applause.)
And quite possibly one of the most touching moments of the night, President Obama, visibly emotional addressed FLOTUS, his daughters and Joe Biden:
President Obama concluded his speech, as classy as ever by invoking the slogan that championed his 2008 bid for the White House, 'Yes we can, yes, we did'.
Check out the full speech below or click here for CNN's transcript.