Obama offers optimism - and warnings - in farewell address
Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn't abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats.
His voice at moments catching with emotion, Obama recounted a presidency that saw setbacks as well as successes. Admitting candidly that political discourse has soured under his watch, Obama demanded that Americans renew efforts at reconciliation.
"Democracy does not require uniformity," Obama said. "Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected 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."
In a concession that, for now, his brand of progressive politics is stalled in Washington, Obama admitted "for every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back."
He implored his backers to be vigilant in protecting basic American values he warned could come under siege.
"Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear," he said. "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."