America is the student who defies the odds to become the first in a family to go to college – the citizen who defies the cynics and goes out there and votes – the young person who comes out of the shadows to demand the right to dream. That’s what America is about.
It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.
After a century of trying, we declared that healthcare in America is not a privilege for a few, it is a right for everybody. After decades of talk, we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil. We doubled our production of clean energy. We brought more of our troops home to their families, and we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.
A lot has happened over the years. And while this nation has been tested by war, and it’s been tested by recession and all manner of challenges – I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your president, to tell you I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before.
Yes, we’ve still got more work to do. More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who has not yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years.