Fairwell Address of President Obama in Chicago
This morning, I heard President Obama’s speech while lying in bed. Admittedly, I got upset. Back in 2008, I shook his hand during his election campaign in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was full of hope regarding the immigration situation for educated parents from Germany/Canada with US children. We both have two children. However, I have found myself in the midst of a frightening situation that has affected my relationship with my two children for their entire lives.
It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional.…. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth.
In the following I will explain why I have my doubts about American superiority and the fact that it is the most respected nation in the world.
The wealthy are paying a fair share of taxes.
You contradict yourself a few sentences later:
While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind.
Then again several paragraphs later:
And make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and the individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.
Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years.
An elegant way to spin the fact that health care costs in the US are the highest in the world while US people are by far not the healthiest in the world.
The laid off factory worker, the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills. Convinced that the game is fixed against them. [“Knowing” would be a better word than “Convinced”.] That their government only serves the interest of the powerful. That’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
But the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle class jobs obsolete. And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need.
Do you think society works better when everybody has a college degree? I think society works better when we consider the adaption of our turbo capitalism and replace it with a more human model that has the well being for all of us in mind and not only a few of us. Besides, reforming the very nature of capitalism will be needed to combat the growing appeal of populist political movements around the world, the World Economic Forum just said. For that to happen not everybody needs a college degree. For that to happen we need to start appreciating the contributions of all workers, for this to happen we need to curb influence of money and lobbyism in Washington, for this to happen we need to stop to over-proportionally reward certain professions, lawyers like you for example.
To update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now.
A big part of the social safety net are families in America. You have belittled fathers and men in the past as your wife did numerous times, you rejected the forming of a White House Council on Boys and Men, you did not ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) when you were able to do so, the US now being the last holdout of the most successful human rights treaty in history. You neither recognized the importance of healthy families nor did you recognize the inequalities towards fathers in US family courts, you never recognized the detrimental impact of the epidemic fatherlessness in our society. Instead, you recently became the follower of feminism, a deeply flawed ideology that is not even an ideology but a misconception that only was repeated often enough in order to create new money streams and academic programs based on the flawed premise that women are better than men.
If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children — because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.
Children of immigrants often are disadvantaged, but in addition, you have denied them the human right to stay in touch with their families by not having ratified the UNCRC. I pay child support for my two US children, yet I am not allowed to be with them without forming a company in the US, I am not allowed to accept employment in the US as a German-trained engineer, and worst of all, I do not even have the right to speak to my young children when I am abroad while applying for a new visa. In the past, I could not speak to them up to 9 months. Can you imagine a similar situation for yourself and your daughters? Can you follow Atticus Finches advice to step into the shoes of others, fathers like me? I sent messages to you at the White House and to my Congressman. You never replied. I created a 50min video explaining my situation. Nobody wants to report about my case because it raises uncomfortable questions for US society.
So if we’re going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination — in hiring, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system.
And may I add, we need to uphold laws against discrimination of fathers in the civil justice system and the family courts.
But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Atticus Finch would have also recognized that two political flavors cannot represent this increasingly diverse nation, he would have recognized that the 2-party construct of the US will increasingly polarize this nation by the repression of opinions instead of bringing its people together by acknowledging more than two opinions.
Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change.
And increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.…without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.
You refused to change your heart, surrounded by the feminist narrative in the White House, you refused to recognize the importance to also prepare boys and young men for the ever-changing gender roles in the 21st century, you refused to recognize the help calls of boys and men by discriminating against them, by refusing to even listen to the 35 scholars and practitioners of the proposed White House Council on Boys and Men. Only the famous three monkeys come to my mind when we cannot even bear to listen to the ideas and suggestions of leading experts. Where does that leave your quote of Atticus Finch when we refuse to walk in the skin of others but worse than that, if we refuse to listen to them? Does your grief of growing up without a father prevent you from appreciating the enormously important role fathers play in the lives of their children? Liberal media and politics repress the harmful impact of our epidemic fatherlessness. They simply do not talk about it. They pretend that single-mother households do the same for children as two-parent households, they pretend that women per se are better than men, that mothers surpass the parenting skills of fathers. Research of four decades and study after study prove them wrong. Yet, you haven’t done anything to heal US families or to bring fathers back into their children’s lives.
We have to pay attention and listen.
Yes, Mr. President!
we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.
Yes, my two young US children are worthy of my love, however you have denied them the right to stay in touch with me by not having ratified the UNCRC.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, we’ve doubled our renewable energy, we’ve led the world to an agreement that (at) the promise to save this planet.
Halving US dependency on foreign oil is not necessarily good news for our environment, Mr. President. But I will refrain from comparing Germany and the US in terms of achieving energy independence by promoting renewable energy sources. What I will say is that I have to pay for shopping bags in German grocery stores which results in environmentally responsible behaviors. I am not exposed to the typical plastic bag storm at US cash registers. Why not promoting the re-use of shopping bags, why not reduce the incredible consumption of plastic cups and bottles that keep polluting our oceans? Just one of many ideas.
That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights to expand democracy and human rights and women’s rights and LGBT rights.
Again, the US considers itself being a champion of human rights, yet you fell short of ratifying the most successful human rights treaty in history, the UNCRC. Children deserve human rights in the US like everywhere else in the world. Women and men are already enjoying human rights, there is absolutely no need for women’s or men’s rights, like there is no need for mother’s- or father’s rights. There is only the need for a merciless family court system not to interfere in the duties parents have to fulfill towards their children. Yes, Mr. President “that’s part of defending America”, as well: Helping young people to form better relationships, addressing the needs of both genders and not continuously discriminating against fathers and disregarding the value of healthy families in the US. Unfortunately, you missed great opportunities.
When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote.
That is only one part of the problem, the crucial part is the fact that the US only has one more party than China, Ben & Jerry’s would have not become so successful with two flavors. It is quite simple, 330,000,000 people deserve more than chocolate and vanilla to choose from!
Then you follow up:
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.
You see? This will not be happening with two flavors or the old and rich couple in Washington that refuses to not step too much on each others toes. No, the people do not give it power, they unfortunately have to tolerate the Constitution!
Addressing your wife: You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. I disagree, not for everybody. Not for boys and men. Just women, girls and feminists.
Addressing your children: Of all that I have done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad. I am proud of my two children, as well. However, the US does not value a smart and loving European father for two of its young US citizens.
And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans — especially so many young people out there — to believe that you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.
And that’s why I regret that you refused to step up for young people and for Bernie Sanders who wanted to achieve the change you promised.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.
Thank you for your time and may God continue to bless every nation on this planet!
Atticus Finch: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Mr. President, will you walk for a moment in my skin, the skin of a European father with two young US children?