My fellow Influencers and Tweeters, this is the fourth time I have taken the oath of office. Today, I will talk about what I hope to leave for my successor.
With humility we can say that, thanks to the generations who came before us, our country is the greatest that has ever existed. Our ancestors freed themselves from a colonial yoke, weathered a civil war, abolished slavery, helped achieve victory in two world wars, developed technological and engineering marvels and cherished the privilege of freedom of speech and civil liberties.
People around the world look at us and say the twentieth century was the time of the American Empire. Yet every great Empire eventually has crumbled. Our job is to make sure that the United States is the first country of the modern era to prosper for several centuries and – my friends – that means together we have much work to do.
We have made tremendous progress – both abroad and at home. We will soon have withdrawn our armies from their long campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have weakened the leadership of Al Qaeda.
Here at home the complexion and nature of our country is changing.
We are becoming a majority minority nation. By mid-century Hispanics, Asian Americans and blacks will account for a majority of the United States. Same sex marriages are now conducted in ten states.
Our geologists have recently uncovered greater reserves of oil beneath our land than we ever imagined. Private enterprise has figured out ways to build driver-less cars, put satellites in space and extract information from the genome that will transform medicine. Some manufacturing companies are even returning from overseas. And, our philanthropists have saved millions of people around the world from the scourge of malaria, polio and AIDS.
In the past few decades we have shown the world what we can do when we set our minds to it.
Thirty years ago American cars averaged 18 miles per gallon. By 2025 they will average over 54 miles per gallon.
Forty years ago some of our rivers were so polluted they caught fire. Today they are teeming with fish. Yes we can.
Fifty years ago nearly one in two of Americans smoked. Today only 19 per cent do – and I am trying hard to quit that club. Yes I can.
Yet my fellow Americans we face profound challenges. Our country is becoming poorer not richer. Median household income has not moved since the late 1980s and our economy has been stagnant for more than a decade. When I first took office about 32 million people received food stamps. Today, sadly, food stamps are given to almost 50 million Americans. Furthermore, we face countries around the world whose people are eager to improve their lot in life and are brimming with the ambition that – once upon a time – fueled the dreams of Americans.