Before we get underway, I'd like to ask everyone to keep the conversation civil. Respect the subject matter, and respect the other posters. Darth Executor and demi-conservative are asked not to post in this thread.
It struck me as very typical Obama, for better or for worse.
Some bits that stuck out to me:
if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don't look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children - because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America's workforce.
First sentence is good, but bolded bit strikes me as a strawman-- it would have been a stronger argument without it. I wonder whether any of the left-leaning elite will actually take this implicit criticism of their economic self-isolation to heart (I confess I have little confidence that the right-leaning elite will, either, but the former group might at least have listened to the speech).
For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face - the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he's got all the advantages, but who's seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn't suddenly vanish in the '60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they're not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they're not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.
The bit I bolded here seems like Obama's attempt to explain Trump voters in a charitable way. I've definitely seen worse attempts. In the passage overall, Obama seems to be trying to bridge the racial divide, though I wonder how plausible both sides will find it.
Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we'll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we'll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.
Isn't that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we're cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It's not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it's self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
I really feel like adding an additional example aimed at the Left here would have really made this point better.
That order is now being challenged - first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power.
Is this supposed to refer to Putin, or...?
All in all, yeah, typical Obama, and what I would expect of a politician-- personal, certainly, but not genuinely humanizing. He's trying to define and defend his legacy, but he doesn't engage any doubts or regrets about his own conduct or decisions, which, frankly, is something I think we need more of, something which I think will be crucial in actually building civil public discourse.