At 8:00 Central Time, in front of a packed crowd of 25,o00 at McCormick Place in Chicago, President Barack Obama gave his farewell address, providing his final thoughts as his term expires next week.

This tradition began with George Washington, and his address is still frequently cited today and is read each time a new Senate is put in office. After Washington, no President followed suit with a farewell address until President Andrew Jackson did in 1837. More recently, the tradition was started and normalized by Harry Truman. Perhaps the most notable since Washington was President Dwight Eisenhower, where he warned the American public of the military industrial complex.

In President George W. Bush’s farewell speech, delivered on January 15, 2009, he provided a very respectful message to his successor calling Barack Obama’s election, “A moment of hope and pride for our whole nation.”

Of course, President Obama’s farewell speech last night has been praised by the left and very much opposed on the right. Surely this partisan take should not come as a surprise, although oftentimes many who have long opposed President Obama have not been willing to credit him when he has been deserving.

Although some conservatives would certainly disagree, Barack Obama is and always has been an incredible speaker. One thing which he does superbly is his ability to inspire and motivate. Part of the reason why he took the nation by storm in 2008 was his incredible charisma.

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I was 9 years old at the time of President Obama’s election. Although I have certainly had my fair shared of policy disagreements through the years, I absolutely believe that he has provided a terrific example to my generation growing up, something which seemed to lack in this last Presidential election.

When he went up against Mitt Romney in 2012, both candidates approached the campaign with pure class. Watching this campaign from the perspective of a middle schooler, this very much fostered my passion for my politics, as I had the opportunity to watch to highly respectable candidates respectfully articulate their vision for America moving forward.

Although we have wildly different ideas as to how the United States should operate, I have never doubted that Barack Obama has noble intentions. President Obama’s tenure in office is one in which I believe will be viewed negatively in the history books. His policies hurt the economy, and America’s actions abroad have been questionable to say the least.

AFP | Getty Images
AFP | Getty Images

Nonetheless, his eight years have provided a constant sense of optimism and opportunity. The story of the life of Barack Obama is one which exemplifies the American Dream. His election and reelection show the world that truly, anybody can achieve anything in the United States of America. Even in his farewell, President Obama continued to provide a voice of optimism and hope for the American people.

I look forward to new political leadership, which will oversee repealing the Affordable Care Act, reigning in government spending, and adhering to our founding principles. However, I still do believe that President Obama provided strong cultural leadership which will not be matched in the new administration.

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Jake Leahy is a Staff Writer for Hypeline News, frequent contributor on 560 the Answer in Chicago, and a student at Deerfield High School (IL). Follow him on Twitter @jakealeahy.

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