Conceding disappointments during his presidency yet offering vigorous encouragement for the nation’s future, outgoing US President Barack Obama has issued an emotional defence of his vision to Americans facing a moment of anxiety and a dramatic change in leadership.
Mr Obama’s valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago was a public meditation on the trials and triumphs, promises kept and promises broken that made up his eight years in the White House.
Arguing his faith in America had been confirmed, Mr Obama said he ends his tenure inspired by America’s “boundless capacity” for reinvention, and declared: “The future should be ours.”
His delivery was forceful for most of his speech, but by the end he was wiping away tears as the crowd embraced him one last time.
He thanked thousands of supporters and reaffirmed his belief in the power of change, harkening back to the message of his first campaign for president in 2008.
Reflecting on the corrosive recent political campaign, he said “potential will be realised only if our democracy works”.
“Only if our politics reflects the decency of 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,” he said.
Mr Obama made no direct mention of Republican Donald Trump, who will replace him on January 20.
But when he noted the imminence of that change and the crowd began booing, he responded: “No, no, no, no, no.” One of the nation’s great strengths, he said, “is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next”.
Earlier, as the crowd of thousands chanted “four more years,” he simply smiled and said: “I can’t do that.”
‘Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.’