tv [untitled] January 11, 2017 3:30am-4:29am EST
journal,'s washington like everyday with news and policy issues that impact you. and coming up this morning, we are opening our phone lines to get your reaction to president obama's farewell address, plus your thoughts on senator jeff sessions confirmation hearing. c-span's washington journal, life, beginning at 7:00 eastern this morning. during the discussion. our coverage of confirmation hearings continues. of senator today two
sessions hearing. on c-span9:30 eastern two. and rex tillerson appears before the senate foreign relations committee. we are live at 9:15 eastern on c-span3, online at c-span.org and on the free c-span radio app. president barack obama and his family boarded air force one for their last trip yesterday. he traveled to chicago for his farewell address. this is one hour 20 minutes. ♪
[cheers] pres. obama: you can tell -- you can tell -- you -- you can tell that -- you can tell that i am a lame duck because nobody is following instructions. [laughter] pres. obama: everybody have a seat. [cheers] pres. obama: my fellow americans -- [cheers] pres. obama: michelle and i have been so touched by all the well
wishes that we have received over the past few weeks, but tonight it's my turn to say thanks. whether we have seen eye to eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the american people -- in living rooms and schools, at farms, on factory floors and diners, and on distant military outposts -- those conversations are what have kept me honest and kept me inspired and kept me going. and every day i have learned , from you. you made me a better president, and you made me a better man. so i first came to chicago when i was in my early 20's, and i was still trying to figure out
who i was, still searching for a purpose in my life. and it was the neighborhood 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. >> four more years, four more years. pres. obama: i can't do that. this is where i learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and get engaged and they come together to demand it. after eight years as your
president, i still believe that. and it is not just my belief, it is the beating heart of our american idea, our bold experiment in self-government. it is a 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-executed. that we, the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union. what a radical idea. a great gift that our founders gave to us.
the freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat and toil and imagination and the imperative to strive together as one to achieve a common good, a greater good. for 240 years, our nation's call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. it is what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. it is what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the rio grande. [applause] it is what pushed women to reach for the ballot. it is what empowered workers. it is why gi's gave their lives
on omaha beach and iwo jima, iraq and afghanistan, and why men and women from selma to stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well. [applause] 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, it has always been contentious. sometimes it's been 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. [applause] [cheers] [applause] pres. obama: if i had told you eight years ago that america would reverse the great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history -- [cheers] pres. obama: 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 --
[cheers] pres. obama: if i had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure -- [cheers] pres. obama: [indiscernible] for another 20 million of our fellow citizens -- if i had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. [laughter] pres. obama: but that is what we did. [cheers] pres. obama: that is 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. [cheers]
[applause] pres. obama: in 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. [boos] pres. obama: no, no, no. the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next. [applause] pres. obama: i committed to president-elect donald trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as president bush did for me. [applause] pres. obama: because it is 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. we have everything we need to meet those challenges. after all, we remain the we have what we need to do so. wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth. our youth, our drive, our diversity, and ultimately, our -- and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. but that potential will only be realized if our democracy works, only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. [applause] pres. obama: only if all of us -- regardless of party affiliation or particular interests -- help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now. that is what i want to focus on
tonight, the state of our democracy. understand democracy does not require uniformity. our founders argued, they quarreled and eventually they compromised. they expect 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. [applause] pres. obama: there have been moments throughout our history that threatened that solidarity. and 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 are testing 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. to begin with, our democracy won't work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunities. the good news is that today, the economy is growing again. wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are all rising again. poverty is falling again. [applause]
pres. obama: the wealthy are paying a fair share of taxes, even as the stock market shatters records. the unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. the uninsured rate has never ever been lower. [cheers] [applause] pres. obama: health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years, and i have said it and i mean it -- if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to the health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, i will publicly support it. [applause] pres. obama: because that, after all, is why we serve.
not to score points or take credit, but to make people's lives better. but for all the real progress that we have made, we know it is not enough. harry economy doesn't work as well or grow as fast when few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class. that's the economic argument, but stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic idea. while the top 1% has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and rural counties have been left behind. the laid-off factory workers,
the health care worker who is barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills, convinced the game is fixed against them, that the government only serves the interest of the powerful -- that is a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics. there are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. i agree, our trade should be fair and not just free. but the next wave of economic dislocations won't come from overseas. it will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete. so we are going to have to 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 codes so corporations and individuals who reap the most
from this new economy don't avoid their obligations to the country that has made their success possible. [applause] pres. obama: 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 have stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come. there is a second threat to our democracy, and this one is 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.
race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. now i have lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say. [applause] pres. obama: you can see it not just in statistics, you see it in the attitudes of young americans across the political spectrum. but we are not where we need to be, and all of us have more work to do. [applause] pres. obama: if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle-class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the
wealthy withdrawal further into their private enclaves. [applause] pres. obama: if we are unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don't look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children, because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of america's workforce. [applause] pres. obama: and we have shown that our economy does not have to be a zero-sum game. last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women. if we are going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against
discrimination in hiring and in housing and education and the criminal justice system. that is what our constitution and our highest ideals require. [applause] but laws alone won't be enough. hearts must change. they won't change overnight. social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change, but if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us needs to try to heed the advice of a great character 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 minority
groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenge that a lot of people in this country face -- not only the refugee or immigrant or rural poor or transgender american, but also the middle-aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he has got advantages but has seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change. we have to pay attention and listen. [applause] pres. obama: for white americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and jim crow did not suddenly vanish in the 1960's. [applause] pres. obama: that when minority groups voice discontent, they are not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political
correctness. when they wage peaceful protest, they are not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our founders promised. [applause] pres. obama: for nativeborn 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 were going to destroy the fundamental character of america. as it turned out, america was not weakened by the presence of these newcomers.
they embraced the nation's creed and the nation was strengthened. [applause] pres. obama: regardless of the station we occupy, we all have to try harder. we all have 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 just like we do, that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own. [applause] pres. obama: and that is not easy to do. for too many of us, it has become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college
campuses or places of worship or, especially, our social media feeds. surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. in the rise of naked partisanship and increasing economic and regional stratification, this splitting of our media into a channel for every caste -- all of this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information -- whether it is true or not -- that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there. [applause]
pres. obama: this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. look, politics is a battle of ideas. that is how our democracy was designed. in the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals and the different means of reaching them. but without some common baseline effects, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point and that science and reason matter, then we are going to keep falling -- talking past each other. it will make common ground and compromise impossible. [applause] pres. obama: isn't that part of what so often makes politics dispiriting? how can elected officials rage
about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids but not when we are cutting taxes for corporations? how do we excuse lapses in our own party but pounce when the other party does the same thing? it is not just dishonest, this selective sorting of facts, it is self-defeating. because, as my mom used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you. [applause] pres. obama: take the challenge of climate change. in just eight years, we have halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled renewable energy, we've led the world to an agreement that has the potential to save this planet. [applause]
pres. obama: but without bolder actions, our children won't have time to debate the existence of climate change. they will be busy dealing with its effects -- more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. but to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical
problem-solving that guided our founders. [applause] pres. obama: it is 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 cures disease and put a computer in every pocket. it is that spirit of faith and 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. to --llowed us -- essential spirit of this
country. the spirit that guided our founding fathers. [applause] president obama: it is that spirit, that spirit born of the environment, that made as an economic powerhouse. -- that order is now being challenged. and annexed who -- first by violent to speak forclaim islam, more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who seek markets 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 missile. they represent the fear of change. the fear of people who look, or speak or pray differently. a contempt for rule of law that holds leaders accountable. an intolerance of free thought. the belief that the sword, with
-- or the gun, with the bomb, or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what is true and right. because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, because of our intelligence officers and law enforcement, and diplomats that support our troops. [applause] president obama: no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years. [applause] president obama: and, although, boston and orlando and san
bernardino and fort hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, aqaba enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. we have taken up tens of thousands of terrorists, including bin laden. [applause] president obama: the global coalition we are leading against isil has taken away about half of their territory. issa will be destroyed and no one who threatens america will ever be safe. and, to all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your commander in chief. [cheers] president obama: but, protecting our way of life -- that is not just the job of our military -- democracy can buckle when he
-- 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. [applause] president obama: that is why, for the past eight years, i have worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. that is why we ended torture, worked to close gitmo. that is why i reject discrimination against muslim americans. who are just as patriotic as we are. [cheers]
pres. obama: that is why -- that is why we cannot withdraw -- that is why we cannot withdraw from the global fight to expand democracy, human rights, women's rights, lgbt and lgbt rights. no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that is part of defending america. for the fight against extremism, and intolerance, and sectarianism, and chauvinism -- they are of a piece of the fight against authoritarianism and national 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. [applause] president obama: isil will try to kill innocent people, but they cannot defeat america unless we betray our constitution and our principles in the fight. [applause] president obama: rivals like russia or china cannot let our influence around the world unless we give up what we stand for as 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. [applause] president obama: all of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. [applause] president obama: when voting rates in america are some of the lowest amongst advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote. [applause] president obama: 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 congressional districts to draw candidates to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes. remember, none of this happens on its own. all of this depends on our participation. on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging. a remarkableion is , helpful gift. but it is really just a piece of parchment. it has no power on its own.
we the people given power. we the people give it meaning with our participation and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge. whether or not we stand up for our freedom. whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. that is up to us. 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, self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but, from different causes and quarters, much pain will be taken to weaken in your mind the conviction of this truth.
so, we have to preserve this truth with jealous anxiety and ofshould reject the dawning that we can those ties. we must strengthen the ties that make us one. [applause] president obama: america, we weaken those ties when we allow political dialogue to become so corrosive that people with good character are reluctant to even enter into public service. americans with whom we disagree are seen not just as misguided but malevolent. we weaken those tires when we write off the whole system as
inevitably corrupt, and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them. [applause] president obama: it is up to each of us to be those jealous guardians of our democracy, to embrace the task we have been given to continually trying to prove this great nation of ours. for all of our outward differences, we all share the the mostct,
important office in democracy, citizen. [applause] president obama: citizen. so, you see, that is what our democracy demands. it needs you. not just when there is 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 talking with one of them in real life. [laughter] [applause] president obama: if something fixing, then lace up your
shoes and do some organizing. [applause] president obama: if you are disappointed by your elected officials, graft a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. [applause] president obama: show up, dive in, stay at it. sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose. presuming a reservoir a goodness of other people, that can be a risk. there will be times when the process will disappoint you. for those of us fortunate enough to be part of this work, and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. more often than not, your faith in america, and in americans,
and will be confirmed. mine sure has been. [applause] president obama: over the course of these eight years, i have seen the hopeful faces of young graduates, and our newest military officers, i have mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace at the charleston church. i have seen our scientists help the paralyzed man regained his sense of touch. i have seen wounded warriors, who were at points given up for dead, walk again. i have seen doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. i have seen the youngest of children remind us through their
remind us of our obligation to help refugees and work for peace, and above all, look out for each other. [applause] president obama: so, that faith that i placed all those years ago, not very far from here, in the power of americans to bring about change -- that fate has -- that faith has been rewarded in ways i cannot possibly imagine. and i hope your faith has, too. some of you here tonight, or watching at home, you were with and 2012., 2008, [cheers] president obama: maybe you still can't believe we pulled this
president obama: you took on a role you did not ask for, and you made it your own. in june did it with grace, style, it and good humor. -- and, you didn't with grace, and, you dide, -0 andith grace and with style with good humor. [cheers] president obama: you make the white house a place that belongs to everybody, and a new generations that sets its sights higher because they had you as a role model.
you make me proud, and you made the country proud. [applause] president obama: malia and sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women. you are smart and beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind and thoughtful, and full of passion. [applause] president obama: you bore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. of all i have done in my life, i'm most proud to be your dad. [applause] president obama: to joe biden --
[cheers] president obama: you were the first decision i've made as a nominee, and it was the best. [applause] president obama: 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 a family. your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives. to my remarkable staff, for
eight years, and for some of you, a whole lot more, i have drawn from your energy, and every day i tried to reflect back what you display -- heart, character, idealism. i have watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new journeys of your own. even when times got tough, and frustrating, you never left -- let washington get the better of you. you guarded against cynicism. the only thing that makes me prouder of all the good that we have done is the thought of all the amazing things you will achieve from here. [applause]
president obama: to all of you out there, every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family that welcomed them in, every volunteer that knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every american that lives and breathes the hard work of change, you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for. and, i will be forever grateful. you did change the world. you did. [applause] president obama: that is 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.
two hitch your wagon to something better than yourself. let me tell you, this generation coming up, unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic -- i have seen you in every corner of the country. you believe in a fair and just and inclusive america. not somethinge is to fear but something to embrace. you are willing to carry the hard work of democracy forward. you will soon outnumber all of us. i believe the future is in good hands. [applause] president obama: my fellow americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. i want stop.
-- i won't stop. in fact, i will be right there with you as a citizen all my remaining days. [applause] president obama: for now, whether you are 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'm asking you to believe. not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. i'm asking you to hold fast in that faith written into our founding documents, that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists, that freed, -- that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags in foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon -- a creed in the core of every american that is not yet written.