Obama Uses the Word 'Change' 16 Times in Farewell Speech

By Susan Jones | January 11, 2017 | 8:59am EST
President Obama used the word "change" 16 times in his farewell address, delivered in Chicago on Tuesday night, Jan. 10, 2017. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama, the man who has embraced "change" throughout his presidency, used the word 16 times in his farewell speech Tuesday night, but he did not directly mention the change Americans embraced in November by voting for Donald Trump.  

At times, Obama -- the "hope and change" president -- seemed to warn against the kind of change Trump has promised.

Obama received a rousing reception as he returned to his hometown of Chicago, "where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it."

After extolling America's "bold experiment in self-government," Obama noted that Americans, "through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union."

"So that's 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." (Obama also noted that "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.")

Recounting what he views as his accomplishments -- including job creation, "marriage equality," and the Iran weapons deal -- Obama told Americans, "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."

Later in his speech, Obama said the nation must "uphold laws against discrimination." "But laws alone won't be enough. Hearts must change. It won't change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change," he said.

Twice Obama used the word "change" in connection with "climate change." And here he seemed to have a message for President-elect Donald Trump, who has been skeptical of human-caused climate change.

"Take the challenge of climate change," Obama said. "In just eight years, we've halved our dependence on foreign oil; we've doubled our renewable energy; we've 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'll 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."

In an apparent reference to Russia, Obama noted that "autocrats in foreign capitals" are challenging the "post-World War II order" by viewing "free markets and open democracies and 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's true and what's right."

In several instances Obama talked about "the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change," or variations on that theme.

In a message to the Americans who have supported his agenda, he said "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 forever be grateful. Because you did change the world."

In a message to the young people, Obama said, "you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace; you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands."

And in a message to "my fellow Americans," Obama said he had one final thing to ask of them -- "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."

He ended his speech with his old campaign slogan, "Yes we can," adding, "Yes we did," then a final "Yes we can."

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