Graduation Inspiration: President Obama Addresses the University of Michigan Class of 2010 at ‘The Big House’
In a 2010 commencement speech at University of Michigan, President Obama challenges graduates to be actively involved in politics but be nice.
Nearly 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson's commencement address in Ann Arbor, University of Michigan graduates were again addressed by a sitting President: Barack Obama.
After cheering "Go Blue!" (a confessed "cheap applause line to start things off"), Obama charged students with keeping democracy vital.
And so now, class of 2010, the question for your generation is this: How will you keep our democracy going? At a moment when our challenges seem so big and our politics seem so small, how will you keep our democracy alive and vibrant; how will you keep it well in this century?
He also talked about the role of government in our lives.
Government is the police officers who are protecting our communities, and the servicemen and women who are defending us abroad. Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. Government is this extraordinary public university -– a place that’s doing lifesaving research, and catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small.
The President challenged graduates to improve the government.
So, class of 2010, what we should be asking is not whether we need “big government” or a “small government,” but how we can create a smarter and better government. Because in an era of iPods and Tivo, where we have more choices than ever before -- even though I can't really work a lot of these things -- (laughter) -- but I have 23-year-olds who do it for me -- (laughter) -- government shouldn’t try to dictate your lives. But it should give you the tools you need to succeed. Government shouldn’t try to guarantee results, but it should guarantee a shot at opportunity for every American who’s willing to work hard.
Obama also talked a lot about being civil to each other...
It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate, the one we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.
...although it seems there has been little progress in this area- sad.