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美国总统奥巴马告别演说(中英文) (2017/1/11 17:28:07) [发送到微博]
 
 

北京时间周三(1月11日)上午,美国总统奥巴马在芝加哥发表告别演讲,宣告8年的总统生涯结束。

奥巴马告别演讲现场

很高兴回家,回到芝加哥!回家真好!

正如你们所见,我现在是个“跛脚鸭”总统,因为没有人再听从我的指示,正如现场大家每个人都有个座位。

很高兴回到家乡。我的朋友们,过去几周中我们收到了许多真诚的祝福,我和米歇尔深受感动。今晚,轮到我来对你们说声感谢。不论我们站在相同的政治立场上还是从未达成共识,不论我们是在房间还是学校、农场还是工厂车间、餐桌还是野外,我们之间的对话都让我更加诚实、更加奋进,也帮助我深受启发。每天,我都在向你们学习。你们帮助我成为一个更称职的总统,也帮助我成为一个更好的人。

我是在二十多岁的时候第一次来芝加哥,当时我仍然处于懵懵懂懂的阶段,仍然在寻求生活的意义。我开始与一些教会团体在已经关门的钢铁生产厂附近工作,当时那些小区离今天的会场不远。在那些街道中,我见证了信仰的力量,也在工人斗争中见证了工人阶级无声的尊严。这个时候,我明白了只有当普通人民团结起来、参与进来并致力于争取权力,社会变革才能发生。

在担任八年的美国总统后,我仍然相信这一条结论。这不仅仅是我个人的想法,也是根植在美国人心中的核心价值观,即寻求自主管理的大胆实验。

我们每个人相信,我们生来平等,享有造物主赋予我们的一些不可剥夺的权利,包括生命、自由和追求幸福的权利。

尽管这些权利看上去是显而易见,但是这些权利却从来不会自动实现。正是美国人民通过民主政治的渠道,坚持追求这些权利,我们才能够成为一个更加完美的联合体。

这是我们的先驱赋予我们的礼物,让我们有自由通过自己的辛勤劳动、梦想和努力来追求每个人不同的梦想。当然,每个美国人也应当同心协力,才能实现更加伟大的创举。

在过去240年中,美国精神一直鼓励每个美国公民积极行使公民权利,这给每一代美国人赋予了努力的方向。这也是鼓舞美国人推翻集权选择共和制度、探索开发西部地区以及修筑铁路的奴隶奋起反抗要求自由的动力。这种美国精神将漂洋过海和来自格兰德河的移民和难民凝聚在一起,鼓励美国女性走向投票站,也促使工人团结形成工会。这也是鼓舞美国士兵在奥巴马海滩、硫磺岛、伊拉克和阿富汗等战场抛头颅洒热血的精神。这更是鼓励塞尔玛小镇上黑人民权斗士和石墙中同性恋运动人士捍卫自身权利的精神。

这也是为什么美国如此特别。美国的独特之处不在于我们从一开始就拥有完美的制度,而是我们有能力改变,并帮助那些寻求改变的人过上更好的生活。

是的,我们一路走来并非一帆风顺。推动民主体制向来非常困难,有时甚至需要激烈争辩或流血冲突。每当我们向前走两步时,很多时候都感觉好像反而是退了一步。但是,美国历史一直是在进步,一直在扩大建国精神的范围,来包容美国各个阶层和社会群体。

八年前,如果我告诉你美国能够从金融危机中走出来、重建汽车制造行业、并实现美国历史上就业岗位连续增长的最长记录,如果我告诉你我们能够与古巴重建外交关系并写下历史的新篇章、在不动用武力的前提下关闭伊朗核武器研究项目、并消灭911恐怖主义袭击事件的首脑,如果我告诉你我们能够实现婚姻平等、满足2000万美国人提供医疗保险的需求,当时的你或许会觉得我想得太远了。

但是,我们都做到了。这些都是你们取得的成就,你们就是实现这些变革的动力。你们满足了美国人民的愿望,也因为你们,美国在各个方面都变得更好,比我刚上任时更加强大。

权力从一个自由选举的总统向下一任转移的过程是平稳有序的,这是非常重要的。我曾向特朗普承诺,我的政治团队将确保此次换届过程非常平稳,就像当初布什总统把权力交接给我一样。因为,我们每个人首先要保证美国政府未来有能力解决我们现在仍然面临的问题。

在美国历史中,曾经有过几次内部团结被破坏的时候。本世纪初,就是美国社会团结遭到威胁的一个时期。世界各国联系更加紧密,但是社会不平等问题更加突出,恐怖主义的威胁也更加严重。这些因素不仅仅会考验美国的安全和法弄,也对美国的民众体制产生威胁。未来,我们如何迎接这些民主挑战将关系到我们是否能正确教育下一代、继续创造就业岗位并保护美国的国土安全“

医疗保险政策

目前,美国未参保人数比例大幅下降,医疗保健费用增速已将降至过去50年以来最低水平。如果任何人能够提出一项医保政策,并切实证明新政策比上一届政府提出的医保改革更加有效,能够尽可能地以较低价格覆盖广大美国人民,我会公开支持这种新的医保政策。

种族和移民问题

美国总统大选结束后,一些人认为美国已经进入后种族时代。尽管这种种族融合的愿望是好的,但是却不太可能真正实现。目前,种族问题仍然是一个可能造成社会分裂的重大问题。以我个人经历来看,如今美国社会的种族问题比二十、三十年前有了较大改善,这种社会进步不仅仅体现在统计数字中,也可以从不同政治观念的年轻一代美国人的态度中看出来。

但是,我们的工作还远远没有结束。我们每个人都还有很多工作去做。如果每个经济问题都通过勤劳的美国中产阶级与少数族群之间的冲突来解读,那么各个种族的工人阶级将为一点点剩余的劳动果实争得头破血流,而那些富人会进一步收缩进他们自己的小圈子。如果我们仅仅因为移民后裔长得不像我们,就拒绝给这些孩子投资,那我们也是在牺牲美国人后代的希望,因为这些移民后裔未来会在美国工薪阶层占很大比例。

少数族裔问题

对于黑人和其他少数族群需要共同奋斗来解决许多美国人面临的问题,这不仅仅包括难民、移民、农村的群人和变性人,也包括那些看上去享受各种社会优待的中年男性白人,因为这些人都面临全社会经济、文化和科技发生重大变革的挑战。

政治是一场观点的较量,这也是民主体制的设计理念。但是,如果每个政治团体没有一些社会共识,不愿意去了解新的信息,不愿意去承认对手方的论点合理,也不愿意通过科学论据理性思考,那么这场辩论中没有人在聆听,双方就不可能产生共识或者妥协。

环境保护

如果我们不采取更加积极的环境保护措施,我们的下一代就没有时间再讨论环境变化是否存在,而是忙于处理环境变化带来的后果,包括自然灾害、经济发展停滞以及环境难民寻求避难等问题。现在,我们能够也应当讨论如何最好地解决环境变化问题。但是,如果我们仅仅否认环境问题存在,这不仅仅是背叛下一代,也背叛了历史先驱们寻求创新并解决实际问题的精神。

恐怖袭击

过去八年中,没有任何一个境外恐怖主义组织成功地在美国本土上计划并执行一次恐怖袭击。尽管美国发生了本土滋生的恐怖主义袭击事件,包括波士顿马拉松炸弹袭击以及圣博娜迪诺袭击事件。对于那些一直坚守在工作岗位上的反恐工作人员,担任你们的指挥官是我一辈子的荣耀。

我反对任何歧视美国穆斯林群体的行为。我们需要更加警惕,但是不需要害怕ISIL组织(伊拉克和黎凡特伊斯兰国)杀害更多无辜的人民。如果我们在斗争中坚守美国宪法和核心精神,他们就无法战胜美国。俄罗斯或者中国等其他国家无法匹敌美国在全球范围内的影响,除非我们自己放弃这种影响力,变成一个只会欺负周边小国的大国。

不论我们属于哪一个党派,我们所有人都应当致力于重建美国的民主政治制度。我们的民主宪法是一项杰出的成就,也是上天赐予的礼物,但是这仅仅是一张纸,宪法本身不具备任何力量。宪法的力量是我们美国人民通过参与选举、做出决议赋予的。

美国人应当成为积极参与政治的公民,让参与政治成为日常生活的一部分,特别是如果一些人对目前美国政治的现状不满的话:“如果你厌倦了与互联网上的陌生人争辩,可以考虑在现实生活中与异见人士辩论。如果你认为一些问题需要被解决,那就采取行动组织力量。如果你对选举出来的政府官员不满意,那就争取其他人的支持来自己竞选。

致谢

米歇尔,过去二十五年中,你不仅仅是我的妻子孩子的母亲,也是我最好的朋友。你担任了一个不是你争取来的职责,但是你的优雅、勇气和幽默都给这个身份烙上了你自己的印记。

(奥巴马转向他的女儿)你们两个女孩聪明、美丽,更重要的是,你们善良而又充满热情。过去几年中,你们没有被聚光灯所累。在我的一生中,我为成为你们的父亲而自豪。

(感谢副总统拜登)从宾州斯克兰顿到特拉华州,你是我当选美国总统后提名的第一个人选,也是我最好的选择。拜登是一个好兄弟,就像家人一样。

(感谢工作人员)你们改变了这个世界。今晚,我将离开这个舞台,但是我对于这个国家比我刚上任时更加乐观.

美国民众对国家充满信心

我希望你相信,不仅仅相信我能够为美国带来改变的能力,也相信你自己能够改变这个国家的能力。

希望你们坚信美国建国宪章中记载的精神,相信奴隶和废奴主义者传播的平等观念,相信曾经通过游行争取移民公平权利的精神,相信那些将美利坚旗帜插在海外战场和月球表面的国家信念。这种信念存在于每个普通美国人的心中。

是的,我们能行。

是的,我们做到了。

是的,我们能行!

英文原文

It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it. 

After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government. 

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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.

This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well. 

So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow. 

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

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 …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, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…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 – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.

But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now. 

That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.

Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland. 

In other words, it will determine our future.

Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it. 

That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse. 

But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics. 

There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dis won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.

And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.

But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. 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. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women. 

Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change. 

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. 

For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened. 

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. 

None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

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. 

Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you. 

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. 

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.

It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket. 

It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.

That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.

But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. 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, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. 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. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

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.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed. 

Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.

That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off. 

You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.

Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad. 

To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.

To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.

And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.

That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was 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 you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours. 

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. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

                                                                                                       2017-1-11

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