In response to the shocking results of Tuesday's presidential election, President Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden of the White House Wednesday afternoon. The transcript of Obama's post-election speech shows all the grace and professionalism that has characterized his presidency, and it was a welcome way to ease anxiety of the upcoming Donald Trump presidency.
No one knows better than President Obama the challenges facing the next president. His own presidency has been characterized by hatefulness and polarization, and he has managed to do some incredible things with his time in office anyway. Yet the hope that the next president will fight for the same things for which Obama advocated, the same racial equality, environmental protection, and access to education, seems frighteningly small in light of this election. In the context of all the hateful, inflammatory rhetoric that Trump has spewed throughout his campaign, President Obama’s words don’t seem likely to come to fruition. Ultimately, President Obama is right about at least one thing: this is not a time to give up, only a sign that people need to work harder to spread the compassion and empathy that this country really stands for.
Read the full transcript below:
Good afternoon everybody. Yesterday, before votes were tallied, I shot a video that some of you may have seen in which I said to the American people regardless of whihc side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning, and that is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true. The sun is up. I know everybody had a long night, I did as well.
I had a chance to talk to president-elect Trump last night, about 3:30 in the morning I think it was, to congratulate him on winning the election and I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow and to talk about making sure there is a successful transition between our presidencies. Now it is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences.
But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush's team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure that we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running. One thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us, so I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush's team set eight years ago and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect. Because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. A peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy, and over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.
I also had the chance last night to speak with Secretary Clinton, and I just had the chance to hear her remarks. I could not be prouder of her. She has lived an extraordinary life of public service. She was a great First Lady, she was an outstanding senator for the state of New York, and she could not have been a better secretary of state. I'm proud of her, and a lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic, and sends a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest levels of politics, and I am absolutely confident that she and President Clinton will continue to do great work for people here in the United States and people all around the world.
Now everybody's sad when their side uses an election, but the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team. This is an intermural scrimmage. We're not Democrats first, we're not Republicans first, we're Americans first, we're patriots first. We all want what's best for this country. That's what I heard in Mr. Trump's remarks last night, that's what I heard when I spoke to him directly, and I was heartened by that. That's what the country needs: a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope that's how his presidency has a chance to begin.
I also told my team today to keep their heads up, because the remarkable work that they have done, day in, day out, often without a lot of fanfare, often with a lot of attention, work in agencies, work in obscure areas of policy that make government run better and make it more responsive and make it more effecient and make it more service-friendly so that it's actually helping more people, that remarkable work has left the next president with a stronger, better country than the one that existed eight years ago.
So win or lose in this election, that was always our mission. That was our mission from Day One, and everyone on my team should be extraordinarily proud of everything that they have done, and so should all of the Americans that I have had the chance to meet all across this country, who do the hard work of building on that progress every single day. Teachers in schools, doctors in E.R. clinic, small businesses putting their all into starting something up and treating their employees well. All of the important work that's done by moms and dads and families and congregations in every state. The work of perfecting this union.
So this was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exaltant today, a lot of Americans are less so, but that's the nature of campaigns, that's the nature of democracy. It is hard and sometimes contentious and noisy. It's not always inspiring. But to the young people who got into politics for the first time and may be disappointed by the results, I just want you to know you have to stay encouraged. Don't get cynical, don't ever think you can't make a difference. As Secretary Clinton said this morning, fighting for what is right is worth it. Sometimes you lose an argument, sometimes you lose an election.
The path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back, and that's ok. I've lost elections before. Joe [Biden] hasn't, but that's the way politics works sometimes. We try to persuade people that we're right, and then people vote, and then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena, we go at it, we try even harder the next time.
The point though is that we all go forward and with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That's how this country has moved forward for 240 years. That's how we've pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That's how we've expanded the rights of our founding to reach all our citizens. That's how we have come this far. And that's why I'm confident that this incredible journey that we're on as Americans will go on, and I am looking forward to doing everything that I can to making sure that the next president is successful in that.
I've said before I think of this job as a relay runner. You take the baton, you run your best race, and hopefully by the time you hand it off, you're a little further ahead, you've made a little progress. I can say that we've done that, and I want to make sure that that handoff is well executed because ultimately, we're all on the same team. Alright, thank you very much everybody.
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