There's nothing like conflict to breed good prose, so it's no surprise that President Obama is one of the most quote-able Commanders-in-Chief ever. Over the last eight years, Obama has lead the American people with the strength of his conviction and the power of his words, which so often inspired, comforted, and vindicated the American people. Here are 14 times President Obama gave amazing advice, which should come in handy after he leaves the White House.
The nation better take all of this great advice to heart, because people are going to need it over the next four years. With most of his legislative and executive achievements at the mercy of a Republican-controlled government, Obama's guidance will hopefully endure past his time in office and help the next era of progressives find the strength to fight back.
Try as they might, Republicans and conservatives will never be able to fully erase President Obama's legacy — his words and wisdom have preserved his place in American history, no matter what. These 14 quotes are ones to truly live by, whether you're a dedicated political activist or just doing your small part to make the world a better place.
Don't Over-Romanticize The Past
"When you hear someone longing for the 'good old days,' take it with a grain of salt. Take it with a grain of salt. We live in a great nation and we are rightly proud of our history. We are beneficiaries of the labor and the grit and the courage of generations who came before. But I guess it’s part of human nature, especially in times of change and uncertainty, to want to look backwards and long for some imaginary past when everything worked, and the economy hummed, and all politicians were wise, and every kid was well-mannered, and America pretty much did whatever it wanted around the world.
"Guess what. It ain’t so. The 'good old days' weren’t that great. Yes, there have been some stretches in our history where the economy grew much faster, or when government ran more smoothly. There were moments when, immediately after World War II, for example, or the end of the Cold War, when the world bent more easily to our will. But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes. In fact, by almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even eight years ago."
Never Stop Working For Equality
"When waves of Irish and Italian immigrants were derided as criminals and outcasts; when Catholics were discriminated against, or Jews had to succumb to quotas, or Muslims were blamed for society’s ills; when blacks were treated as second-class citizens and marriages like my own parents’ were illegal in much of the country — we didn’t stop. We didn’t accept inequality. We fought. We overcame. We carried the dream forward.”
Don't Be Afraid To Rock The Boat
"It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America."
Love Makes Everyone Equal
“Because, for all our differences, we are one people, stronger together than we could ever be alone. That’s always been our story. We are big and vast and diverse; a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, different experiences and stories, but bound by our shared ideal that no matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.”
Be The Change You Wish To See In The World
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Have The Audacity To Hope
“Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.”
No One Achieves Their Goals Without Help
“If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own… I’m always struck by people who think, ‘well, it must be because I was just so smart.’ There are a lot of smart people out there. ‘It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.’ Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”
Money Is Not The Answer To Life's Problems
"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled."
Speak Out Against Hate
“The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.”
"We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us, and ensure that our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter."
Strive For Excellence
"We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent."
You Don't Get To Rest Until People Have Their Rights
"Your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop. . . . You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”
Our Diversity Is Our Strength
"Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity—the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one."
Yes, We Can
“We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we’ve been told we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: ‘Yes we can.’”