In his farewell speech to the nation, President Barack Obama urged Americans to take a more active role in the political system by helping to implement change themselves.
"None of [protecting democracy] happens on its own," said Obama, addressing a crowd of over 20,000 supporters in Chicago's McCormick Place. "All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging."
Obama, who worked as a political organizer on the south side of Chicago after graduating from college, urged people to take on his old profession -- and his most recent one:
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen. Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.
The speech received a warm response from the crowd; the president was interrupted with shouts of “I love you, Obama!” at various times during the speech, according to CNN.