tv PBS News Hour PBS January 10, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: good evening and welcome to this special pbs newshour coverage of president obama's farewell address. i'm judy woodruff. after his speech, which is expected to last around 30 minutes, stations in the east will continue with their primetime programming, in full. for stations in the west and audiences watching online, we will continue with this special edition of the newshour. tonight, the president is back in chicago, where he began his political career, to address the nation before a room full of
staff and supporters. and as we wait for the president, i'm joined by our regular contributor, syndicated columnist mark shields, as well as matt schlapp, chairman of the american conservative union, and by harvard historian annette gordon-reed. welcome, all. >> we think
pea is just seconds away but mark what are you looking for tonight. >> i will tell you what i am not looking for, eight years ago this week president george bush spoke of his successor and spoke of barack obama, he said a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land and this is a moment of hope and pride for our entire nation after the election of barack obama. i don't think similar sentiments will be expressed this evening. >> and gordon reed, what about you? what do you look for? >> i am looking for him to defend his legacy and talk about what he tried to accomplish as president. this is a moment to sum up and i think that that is
what farewell addresses do. >> it is a president approaches the lectern, matt schlapp what are you look for? >> i think what is interesting is democrats are still looking for their leader and leadership doesn't
come from the hill or congress, then i think baron is talking to a lot of democrats who say now what? >> woodruff: and as we see the president, they have created quite a platform there for the president, he is approaching the lectern. this will be the president's final address and it has to be emotional for a lot of the people in the room who have worked with him over the last eight years, four years or however long they have worked for this president, they feel a connection with him. let's watch and listen. >> hello, chicago. >> it is good to be home. thank you, everybody. thank you.
you can tell, you can tell that i am -- you -- you -- you can tell that -- you can tell i am a lake duck because nobody is following instructions. everybody have a seat. my fellow americans -- [ cheers and applause ] >> michelle and i have been so touched by all the well wishes that we received over the past few weeks, but tonight, tonight is my turn to say thanks. whether we have seen eye to eye or really agreed at all, my
conversations with you, the american people in living rooms and in schools, at farms, on factory floors, at diners, and on distant military outposts, those conversations are what kept me honest and kept me inspired and kept me going. 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 twenties and i was still trying to figure out who i was, still searching for a purpose in my life and it was a neighborhood not far from here where i began working with church groups in the shadows of steel mills. there were zombie, it was on a
these streets where i witnessed the power of faith and applied dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. i can't do that. now, this is where i 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. 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 inalienable rights, among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of a happiness. it is the insistence that these rights, well self-evident have never been self executing. 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 goal, a greater goal, 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 public or tyranny, republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that make shift railroad to freedom. what told immigrants and refugees across oceans and the rio grande, it is what -- [ cheers and applause ] >> it is what power workers organized, it is why gi's gav their lives on omaha beach at iwo jima, iraq and afghanistan. and why men and women from selma to stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.
[ cheers and applause ] so -- so that's what we mean when we say american exceptionalism, our, not that our nation was stainless from the start but shown our capacity to change and make lives better for those who followed. yes, our progress has been uneven, the work of democracy has always been hard, it always has been contentious. sometimes it has 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.
[ cheers and applause ] >> if i had told you eight years ago that america would reverse the great recession, reboot our auto industry and unleash the longest progression of job creation in our history -- [ cheers and applause ] if i told you that we would open up a new chapter with the cuban people, shut down iran's nuclear weapon program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11, if i had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right -- to 20 million of our fellow
citizens. [ cheers and applause ] if i told you all of that you may have said, your sites were set a little too high. but that is what we did. that is what you did. you were the change. the answer of people's hopes and because of you by almost every meshing is a better, stronger place than it was when we started. [ cheers and applause ] >> in ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. no, no, no.
the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next. [ cheers and applause ] >> i committed the, to president-elect trump and my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition just as president bush did for me. [ cheers and applause ] >> 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 wealthiest, most powerful and most respected nation on earth. our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness,
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 reflect the decency situate of our people. .. [ applause ] >> only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests have restored the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now. >> and that's what i want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. understand that democracy doesn't requirement uniformity. our founders argued, they quarreled, eventually they
compromised, they expected us to do the same. but they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. the idea that for all of our outward differences we are all in this together, that we rise or fall as one. [ applause ] >> there have beenoments throughout our history that threatens that solidarity. at the beginning of this century is one of those times. a shrinking world, growing inequality, demographic change and the spectre of terrorism, these forces haven't just tested our security and our 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. and 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 ] the wealthier 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.
healthcare costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. and i have said and i mean it, if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we have made to our healthcare system that covers as many people at less cost, i will publicly support it. 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'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. and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class. that is the economic argument, but stark inequality is also kor roreceive to our democratic idea. while the top one percent has amass add bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind, the laid off factory worker, the waitress or healthcare worker who is just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills, convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful, that's 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 dislocation won't come from overseas, it will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good middle class jobs on so athlete. so we will have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all of 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 this new economy don't avoid their obligations to the country that has made their very success possible. [ applause ] >> >> 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. and 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 ten or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what
some folks say. 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. if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. [ applause ] >> if the 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 ] >> and we have shown that 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. so we are, so there are going to be fears about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination in hiring and in housing and in education and in the criminal justice system. that is what our constitution and our highest ideals require.
but laws alone won't be enough. hearts must change. it 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 need 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 challenges that a lot of people in this country face, not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender american, but also the middle-aged white guy
who from the outside may seem like he's got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. we have to pay attention and listen -- [ applause ] >> for white americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and jim crow didn't suddenly vanish in the sixties, that when minority groups voiced discontent, they are not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness, that when they wage peaceful protest they are not demanding the special treatment but the equal treatment that our founders promised. [ applause ]
>> for native born americans, -- for native born americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the irish and italians and poles. it was said they are going to destroy the fundamental character of america. and as it turned out america wasn't weakened by the presence of these newcomers. these newcomers embraced this nation's creed and this nation was strengthened. [ applause ] >> so 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 ] >> and that is not easy to do. for too many of us, it's 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.
and the rise of naked partisanship and 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 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 ] >> the and this, friend, represent as third threat to our democracy, look, politics is a battle of ideas, that is our, 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 effect, without a willingness to admit new information and conceive that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter then we are going to keep talking across each other. and we will make common ground and compromise impossible. and 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 w are 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 mom used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you. [ applause ] >> take the challenge of climate change. in just eight years, we have halved our dependence on foreign oil, we have doubled our renewable energy, we have 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 will be busy dealing with its effects. more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves
of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. now, 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 ] >> it is that spirit, it is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us the economic powerhouse, the spirit that took flight at kitty hawk and cape canaveral, the spirit that cures disease an and put a computer in every pocket.
it is 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 allowed us to build a post world war ii order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press. [ applause ] >> >> 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 and 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 the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what is true and what is right. because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, because of our
intelligence officers and law enforcement and diplomats who support our troops -- [ applause ] >> -- no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years. [ applause ] >> and although boston and orlando and san bernadino and fort hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever, we have taken out 10s of thousands of terrorists, including bin laden. [ applause ] >> the global coalition we are 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.
[ applause ] >> and to all who serve or have served, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your commander in chief. and we all owe you a deep debt of gratitude. [ applause ] >> but protecting our way of life, that is not just the job of our military. 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. [ applause ] >> and that's why for the last eight years i have worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer the legal footing. that's why we have ended torture, worked to close gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. that's why i reject discrimination against muslim americans. [ cheers and applause ] >> that's why -- that's why we cannot withdraw -- that's why we cannot withdraw from big global
fights to expand democracy and human rights and women's rights 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 are a piece of 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. [ applause ] >> 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, our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. [ applause ] >> all of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of
rebuilding our democratic institutions. [ applause ] >> when voting rates in america are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder to vote. [ cheers and applause ] >> when trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the i don't stiff 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, our congressional districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes. [ cheers and applause ] >> but 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. 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, 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 rule of law, that's 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 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." and so we have to preserve this truth 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. america, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so i don't receive, corrosive that people of good character .. aren't even willing to enter into public service, so coarse with rancor that americans with whom we disagree are seen not just as misguided but asthma level lent, as, m malevolent, we weaken thoe ties when we define some of us as more american than others, 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. [ cheers and applause ]
>> it falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy, to em grace joyous past we have been given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. because for all of our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy, citizen. citizen. [ applause ] >> 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 interests is at stake but over the full span of a lifetime. if you are tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life. [ cheers and applause ] >> if something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. [ cheers and applause ] >> if you are disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures and run for office yourself. [ cheers and applause ] >> show up, dive in, stay at it.
sometimes you will win. sometimes you will lose. presuming a reservoir of goodness in other people, that can be a risk, and there will be times when the process will disappoint you. but for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, and 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. [ applause ] >> 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 in charleston church. i have seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, i have seen wounded warriors who at points were given up for dead walk again. i have seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. i have seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees or work for peace and above all, to look out for each other. [ applause ] >> so that faith that i placed all of 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 could not have possibly imagined. and i hope your faith has too. some of you here tonight or who are watching at home, you were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012, -- [ applause ] >> -- maybe you still can't believe we pulled this whole thing off. [ cheers and applause ] >> you are not the only ones. michelle, -- [ cheers and applause ] >> michelle, lavonne -- for the
[ cheers and applause ] >> 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. so you have made me proud and you have made the country proud. malia and sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young
women, you are smart and you are beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion and -- [ applause ] >> -- you are the, you endured the burden of years in the 0 spotlight easily. of all i have done in my life, i am most proud to be your dad. to joe biden -- [ cheers and applause ] >> -- the scrappy kid from
scranton who became delaware's favorite son, you were the first decision i made as a nominee and it was the best. [ cheers and applause ] >> not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, i gained a brother. and we love you and jill like family and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives. [ cheers and applause ] >> 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 displayed, heart, and character and idealism.
i have watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new your honor journr own. even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let washington get the better of you. you guarded against cynicism. and the only thing that makes me prouder than all the good that we have done is the thought of all the amazing things that you are going to achieve from here. [ applause ] >> and to all of you out there, every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every 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 anybody could ever hope for and i will be forever grateful. because you did change the world. you did. and that's why 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, to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. i 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.
[ cheers and applause ] >> you know that constant change has been america's hallmark, it is not something to fear but something to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. you will soon out number all 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 remaining days. but for now, whether you are young or whether you are 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. thank you.
with that >> woodruff: and that concludes president obama's farewell address to the nation. we continue now with analysis of the president's farewell address, with syndicated columnist mark shields, matt schlapp, chairman of the conservative union, and harvard historian annette gordon-reed. >> it is a longer speech than we expected it to be and it was a speech from the bottom of his heart as he said over and over. >> yes. no. it was a long speech, it was an absolutely by star venue, i don't know why he did it before a crowd like that, quite frankly, because it slowed the speech down, but i thought he said everything he wanted to say and certainly a call to arms and an ex-oration to strompt and engagement as citizens and a promise that he himself would not go quietly into the into the sunset. >> and matt schlapp, he spoke about, annette gordon-reed, he spoke about american values. >> absolutely, obama invoking the founders and hope and change, tying everything to, you
know, jefferson's words in the declaration of independence, life liberty and about equality, this is what he stood for and he wanted to reiterate that for his end. >> woodruff: and matt schlapp, finally, what i downward did yo? >> i think he is going to pick up some paintbrushes and start painting usually they give this speech in washington and go home, he went home and spoke to democrats about the fact he is not out of the fight and in many ways he leads the cause so the exact opposite we see from most presidents. >> woodruff: and we heard him say from the end, i won't stop and be right there with you as a citizen. on behalf of all of us at the pbs newshour, on behalf of all of us on this panel, we thank you and good night. >> >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> bnsf railway. >> xq institute.
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