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Detail of Elihu Vedder‘s mural Government (1896), in the Library of Congress. The title figure bears a tablet inscribed with Lincoln‘s famous phrase. (Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia)

President Obama bids his Nation Farewell

On Tuesday 10 January 2017, President Obama gave his farewell address to his nation. The subscript was: “Yes we can,” his rallying cry and perhaps the rallying cry of most democracies. Democracy is not a perfect form of government. Too many voters are uninformed or misinformed, but a democracy remains the best form of government we have. However, on 8 November 2016, democracy failed the United States. Americans voted into office a nominee who is unable to play his role as President of the United States. I suspect a large number of his supporters did not know Mr Trump. It seems, moreover, that rules deemed sacred under his predecessors have to be less stringent to accommodate President-elect Donald Trump. It started during the electoral campaign.

According to Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan the medium is the message. I may be rearranging Mr McLuhan’s theory, but not by much. When Americans voted Mr Trump into the presidency, they probably embraced an image. They saw in Donald Trump a successful  white American and felt so comforted that they elected him and conferred upon him a degree of immunity. In the case of Mr Trump, sexual misconduct seemed a lesser offence. So did lying. In fact, whether or not Mr Trump had paid his taxes did not seem to matter, nor did his inability to fulfill the duties of a president of the United States. He’s “the Donald!”

Mr Trump may have known he would need assistance. He appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his main advisor. As for Mr Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, she will probably play the role of first lady more than Melania Trump, Mr Trump’s wife. Mr Kushner has not come up through the ranks, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It is as though the presidency were under revision.

Still fresh in my mind is the obstructionism and scapegoating President Obama faced day after day. He could not do anything right, but incoming President Trump is unlikely ever to do anything wrong. I suspect Mr Trump is the one who will criticize the press, and not the press Mr Trump.


President-elect Donald J Trump


Yet, as noted above, it appears President Obama is of the opinion that democracy is its own corrective. In a democracy, the government is the people. One elects one’s leader(s) and one then attempts to keep them honest. There is little doubt that, four years from now, Americans will vote again and that a different president may be elected, but protecting the planet cannot wait four years.

President Obama’s address was indeed empowering. Americans remain the government. At times,  President Obama seemed to be inviting Americans to get organized and to resist: “Yes we can.”

Can fallible democracy be its own remedy?  It may be, in the long run. But in the short term mistakes may be made. President Obama stated that he would support a good health care plan, if a good health care plan was proposed. I could be mistaken, but it seems President Obama was expressing confidence in Donald Trump. It may have been simple civility.

And now, Mr Trump is saying that “big pharma” is “getting away with murder.” That would be Bernie Sanders‘ opinion. Pharmaceutical companies are like Insurance Companies. They are businesses and their goal is to make a profit.


However Senate took a “major step toward repealing health care law.” As a result, there could be another election sooner than we think. There is a huge price to pay for destabilizing and humiliating a nation. And there is an even greater price to pay for letting less affluent citizens suffer and die. What these politicians are doing is denying the middle class and the poor the services the well-to-do can afford.


I will miss President Obama enormously. The  United States’ first black president earned the respect and the admiration of the world. For eight years, a humble but brilliant Barack Obama was the world’s finest leader.

Love to everyone.

This is a good video about the Obama years.


© Micheline Walker
12 January 2017