本帖最后由 小的士 于 2017-1-12 15:08 编辑 |
It’s good to be home.My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wisheswe’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 withyou, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factoryfloors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, keptme inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me abetter President, and you made me a better man.
I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, stilltrying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. Itwas in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groupsin the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessedthe power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face ofstruggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens whenordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
After eight years as your President, I still believe that. Andit’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our boldexperiment in self-government.
It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed byour Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and thepursuit of happiness.
It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, havenever been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of ourdemocracy, can form a more perfect union.
This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom tochase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and theimperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.
For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given workand purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republicover tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad tofreedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the RioGrande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’swhy 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 aswell.
So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Notthat our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown thecapacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects ofslavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minoritygroups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism orpracticing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’renot demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that thestereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about theIrish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of thesenewcomers; 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 countryjust as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; thattheir 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 toretreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campusesor places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who looklike us and share the same political outlook and never challenge ourassumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regionalstratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste –all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. Andincreasingly, 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 onthe evidence that’s out there.
This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politicsis a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize differentgoals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some commonbaseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concedethat your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter,we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromiseimpossible.
Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How canelected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money onpreschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How dowe excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party doesthe 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 ofcatching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’vehalved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led theworld to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But withoutbolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climatechange; 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 theproblem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; itbetrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving thatguided our Founders.
It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us aneconomic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and CapeCanaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in everypocket.
It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and theprimacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism andtyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order withother democracies, an order based not just on military power or nationalaffiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms ofreligion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.
That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanaticswho claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitalswho see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat totheir power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than acar bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people wholook or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holdsleaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief thatthe sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiterof what’s true and what’s right.
Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women inuniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats whosupport them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned andexecuted an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Bostonand Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our lawenforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken outtens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The globalcoalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and takenaway about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one whothreatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor ofmy 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, mustremain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakeningof 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’swhy we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governingsurveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I rejectdiscrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw fromglobal fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBTrights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoringsuch values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance andsectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism andnationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of lawshrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nationsincreases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.
So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to killinnocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray ourConstitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or Chinacannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we standfor, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smallerneighbors.
Which brings me to myfinal point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. Allof us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuildingour democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest amongadvanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trustin our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of moneyin our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics inpublic service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts toencourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.
And all of this depends on our participation; on each of usaccepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way thependulum of power swings.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’sreally 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 notwe stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule oflaw. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedomare not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote thatself-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but“from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…toweaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve itwith “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of everyattempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble thesacred ties” that make us one.
We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue tobecome so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from publicservice; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are notjust misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we definesome of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system asinevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our ownrole in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians ofour democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually tryto 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. Notjust when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is atstake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing withstrangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If somethingneeds fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointedby your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run foroffice yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win.
Sometimesyou’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, andthere will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of usfortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tellyou, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith inAmerica – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’veseen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers.I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace inCharleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain hissense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors andvolunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’veseen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care forrefugees, 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, inthe power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has beenrewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Someof you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.
You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-fiveyears, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my bestfriend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with graceand grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place thatbelongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because ithas 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 havebecome two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kindand thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in thespotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to beyour dad.
To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who becameDelaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and thebest. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in thebargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and yourfriendship has been one of the great joys of our life.
To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, awhole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back whatyou displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched yougrow 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 thebetter of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’vedone 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 anunfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer whoknocked 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 thebest supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever begrateful. Because yes, you changed the world.
That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic aboutthis country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not onlyhelped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially somany young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitchyour wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up –unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner ofthe country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know thatconstant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but toembrace, 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 isin good hands.
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serveyou. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, forall my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I dohave one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when youtook a chance on me eight years ago.
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but inyours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into ourfounding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; thatspirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice;that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields tothe surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story isnot yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless theUnited States of America.