„And the ability of citizens to organize and advocate for change -- that's the oxygen upon which democracy depends.“
2015, Remarks to the Kenyan People (July 2015)
Birthdate: 4. August 1961
Barack Hussein Obama II is an American politician who served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He is the first African American to have served as president. He previously served in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 to 2004.
Obama was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, two years after the territory was admitted to the Union as the 50th state. Raised largely in Hawaii, Obama also spent one year of his childhood in Washington State and four years in Indonesia. After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. In 1988 Obama enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation, he became a civil rights attorney and professor, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Obama represented the 13th District for three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Obama received national attention in 2004, with his unexpected March primary win, his well-received July Democratic National Convention keynote address, and his landslide November election to the Senate. In 2008, Obama was nominated for president, a year after his campaign began, and after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. He was elected over Republican John McCain, and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Nine months later, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
During his first two years in office, Obama signed many landmark bills. Main reforms were the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 served as economic stimulus amidst the Great Recession, but the GOP regained control of the House of Representatives in 2011. After a lengthy debate over the national debt limit, Obama signed the Budget Control and the American Taxpayer Relief Acts. In foreign policy, Obama increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the United States–Russia New START treaty, and ended military involvement in the Iraq War. He ordered military involvement in Libya in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, and the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.
After winning re-election by defeating Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term in 2013. During his second term, Obama promoted inclusiveness for LGBT Americans, with his administration filing briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional . Obama advocated for gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and issued wide-ranging executive actions concerning climate change and immigration. In foreign policy, Obama ordered military intervention in Iraq in response to gains made by ISIL after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, promoted discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, initiated sanctions against Russia following the invasion in Ukraine and again after Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, brokered a nuclear deal with Iran, and normalized U.S. relations with Cuba. Obama left office in January 2017 with a 60% approval rating. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. His presidential library will be built in Chicago.
2015, Remarks to the Kenyan People (July 2015)
2015, Young African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit Town Hall speech (August 2015)
Context: And the one thing I’ve learned, both in my personal life and in my political life, is that if you want more authority, then you also have to be more responsible. You can’t wear the crown if you can’t bear the cross. […] So my attitude is, if you want to participate then you have to recognize that you have broader responsibilities. […] And that is part of leadership. That’s true, by the way, for you individually as well. You have to be willing to take some risks and do some hard things in order to be a leader. A leader is not just a name, a title, and privileges and perks.
Senator Barack Obama’s speech to supporters after the Feb. 5 2018 nominating contests, as provided by Federal News Service and released in the New York Times (5 February 2008) https://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/us/politics/05text-obama.html
2015, Remarks to the Kenyan People (July 2015)
2011, Address on interventions in Libya (March 2011)
Context: Much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all — even in limited ways — in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.
It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.
To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.
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2014, Queensland University Address (November 2014)
Context: As we develop, as we focus on our econ, we cannot forget the need to lead on the global fight against climate change. [... ] Here in the Asia Pacific, nobody has more at stake when it comes to thinking about and then acting on climate change. Here, a climate that increases in temperature will mean more extreme and frequent storms, more flooding, rising seas that submerge Pacific islands. Here in Australia, it means longer droughts, more wildfires. The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threated. Worldwide, this past summer was the hottest on record. No nation is immune, and every nation has a responsibility to do its part. [... ] We are mindful of the great work that still has to be done on this issue. But let me say, particularly again to the young people here: Combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone. Citizens, especially the next generation, you have to keep raising your voices, because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner and that is healthier and that is sustainable. But that is not going to happen unless you are heard. It is in the nature of things, it is in the nature of the world that those of us who start getting gray hair are a little set in our ways, that interests are entrenched -- not because people are bad people, it’s just that’s how we’ve been doing things. And we make investments, and companies start depending on certain energy sources, and change is uncomfortable and difficult. And that’s why it’s so important for the next generation to be able to step and say, no, it doesn’t have to be this way. You have the power to imagine a new future in a way that some of the older folks don’t always have.
(July 3, 2008): Obama says adding $4 trillion to debt is unpatriotic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUPZJDBJI84
Context: The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents -- #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic.
2013, Cape Town University Address (June 2013)
Context: We always have the opportunity to choose our better history. We can always understand that most important decision -- the decision we make when we find our common humanity in one another. That’s always available to us, that choice. [... ] it can be heard in the confident voices of young people like you. It is that spirit, that innate longing for justice and equality, for freedom and solidarity -- that’s the spirit that can light the way forward. It's in you.
2016, Howard University commencement address (May 2016)
Context: I’d like to offer some suggestions for how young leaders like you can fulfill your destiny and shape our collective future — bend it in the direction of justice and equality and freedom.
First of all — and this should not be a problem for this group — be confident in your heritage. … Be confident in your blackness. One of the great changes that’s occurred in our country since I was your age is the realization there's no one way to be black. Take it from somebody who’s seen both sides of debate about whether I'm black enough. … In the past couple months, I’ve had lunch with the Queen of England and hosted Kendrick Lamar in the Oval Office. There’s no straitjacket, there's no constraints, there's no litmus test for authenticity.
2014, Address to the Nation on Immigration (November 2014)
Context: Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.
2013, Second Inaugural Address (January 2013)
Context: We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.
2016, DNC Address (July 2016)
Context: America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump. In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election — the meaning of our democracy.
Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades — (applause) — because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.
And that's another bet that Donald Trump will lose. And the reason he'll lose it is because he’s selling the American people short. We're not a fragile people. We're not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that We the People, can form a more perfect union.
That's who we are. That’s our birthright — the capacity to shape our own destiny.
2013, Remarks on Economic Mobility (December 2013)
Context: It was Adam Smith, the father of free-market economics, who once said, “They who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.” And for those of you who don’t speak old-English let me translate. It means if you work hard, you should make a decent living. If you work hard, you should be able to support a family.