Speed Reads

state of the union 2016

In final SOTU, Obama tells Americans: 'I believe in change because I believe in you'

President Obama said during his State of the Union address that he has "incredible confidence" in the future of the United States because of the everyday Americans he meets across the country, adding: "I believe in change because I believe in you."

"Our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen," he said. "To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us." The president said Americans don't have to "agree on everything," as the U.S. is a "big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests," but it is important to come together for "rational, constructive debates" and for there to be "basic bonds of trust between" citizens. "It doesn't work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us."

Too many Americans feel that "their voice doesn't matter," he said, and that "the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest." That is one of "the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better." To make changes in the political process, "it will depend on you," Obama said. "That's what's meant by a government of, by, and for the people."