In his farewell address Tuesday night, President Obama called on the crowd to be “anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy” by continuing to be involved in the political process.
Obama said the success of our democracy was dependent on the on Americans togetherness and sharing of similar ideals.
“There have been moments throughout our history that threatened that solidarity,” he said during the speech in Chicago. “In the beginning of this century, it’s 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 our prosperity, but are testing our democracy as well.”
“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,” he said.
Obama added that solidarity was crucial when it comes to outside threats to the Democracy as well.
“Democracy can buckle when it gives 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,” he said, citing his efforts to fight terrorism on firmer legal and moral ground. “That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are.”
“Our constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift, but it’s really just a piece of parchment,” he added later. “It has no power on its own. We the people give it power. We the people give it meaning with our participation and with the choices that we make.”
He also called on supporters and everyday citizens to stay involved in government and politics.
“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,” he said. “Because, for all our outward differences we, in fact, all share the same proud type, the most important office in the democracy: Citizen.”
Obama said his hometown of Chicago is where he learned “that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged and they come together to demand it.”
“After eight years as your President I still believe that,” he said. “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 and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”