Født: 4. august 1961
Født: 4. august 1961
This is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are. Just what it is that we stand for. And as a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, I delivered a simple message to students at the University of Illinois today. You need to vote, because our democracy depends on it.
The biggest threat to our democracy doesn't come from any one person. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism – a cynicism that’s led too many people to turn away from politics, and to stay home on Election Day.
The antidote to government by the powerful few is democracy by the organized many.
If you get involved, and engaged, and knock on some doors, and talk with your friends, and argue with your family members, and change some minds, and vote – then something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. With each new candidate that surprises you with a victory, a spark of hope happens. With each new law that helps a kid read, or a poor family find shelter, or a veteran get the support he or she has earned, hope happens. With each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads.
I believe that can be the legacy of your generation. You can be the generation that stood up and reminded us just how precious democracy is, and just how powerful it can be when we fight for it. I believe you will. Because I believe in you. And I’ll be right there alongside you, every step of the way.
I just stopped by a high school on Chicago’s Southwest side to meet with students who spent the summer learning to code smartphone apps. These apps are impressive – they are designed to connect people in danger to emergency services, make it easy for students and families to get the latest information about their schools, and even help you decide what to eat to for dinner. It’s part of a program Michelle and I are proud to support called One Summer Chicago, which invests in local youth by providing meaningful educational and professional experiences in safe spaces over the summer. Programs like this aren’t just helping Chicago’s youth gain skills for their own future, they're also strengthening the pipeline of talent right here on the South Side, the community of the future Obama Presidential Center.
John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible – and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.
Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.
One of my favorite parts of summer is deciding what to read when things slow down just a bit, whether it’s on a vacation with family or just a quiet afternoon. This summer I've been absorbed by new novels, revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth. Here’s what I’ve been reading:
Tara Westover’s Educated is a remarkable memoir of a young woman raised in a survivalist family in Idaho who strives for education while still showing great understanding and love for the world she leaves behind.
Set after WWII, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje is a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.
With the recent passing of V.S. Naipaul, I reread A House for Mr Biswas, the Nobel Prize winner's first great novel about growing up in Trinidad and the challenge of post-colonial identity.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.
Factfulness by Hans Rosling, an outstanding international public health expert, is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.
Kofi Annan was a diplomat and humanitarian who embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others. His integrity, persistence, optimism, and sense of our common humanity always informed his outreach to the community of nations. Long after he had broken barriers, Kofi never stopped his pursuit of a better world, and made time to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders. Michelle and I offer our condolences to his family and many loved ones.