July 4th, 2009
08:49 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama: 'We did not get here by doing what was easy'

President Obama gives his weekly address.
President Obama gives his weekly address.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama pointed to the "spirit of America" to make the case for his domestic agenda in his Independence Day radio and Web broadcast.

He said the same "unyielding spirit" that drove the pioneers and Depression-era workers was needed now to push for a national health care overhaul, make major energy policy changes, and deal with a struggling economy, he said in his weekly address.

"We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it," he said. "And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall two hundred and thirty-three years ago today."

The president's energy and health care plans are currently being considered by Congress, where they have encountered questions over their price tag and long-term effects.

Full Obama address after the jump

President Obama also responded to critics who have said he has taken on too many ambitious initiatives on a wide spectrum of issues at a time when the nation cannot afford the costs associated with that kind of major change. "And yet, there are those who would have us try what has already failed; who would defend the status quo. They argue that our health care system is fine the way it is and that a clean energy economy can wait. They say we are trying to do too much, that we are moving too quickly, and that we all ought to just take a deep breath and scale back our goals.

"These naysayers have short memories. They forget that we, as a people, did not get here by standing pat in a time of change. We did not get here by doing what was easy. That is not how a cluster of 13 colonies became the United States of America."

Hello and Happy Fourth of July, everybody. This weekend is a time to get together with family and friends, kick back, and enjoy a little time off. And I hope that's exactly what all of you do. But I also want to take a moment today to reflect on what I believe is the meaning of this distinctly American holiday.

Today, we are called to remember not only the day our country was born – we are also called to remember the indomitable spirit of the first American citizens who made that day possible.

We are called to remember how unlikely it was that our American experiment would succeed at all; that a small band of patriots would declare independence from a powerful empire; and that they would form, in the new world, what the old world had never known – a government of, by, and for the people.

That unyielding spirit is what defines us as Americans. It is what led generations of pioneers to blaze a westward trail.

It is what led my grandparents' generation to persevere in the face of a Depression and triumph in the face of tyranny.

It is what led generations of American workers to build an industrial economy unrivalled around the world.

It is what has always led us, as a people, not to wilt or cower at a difficult moment, but to face down any trial and rise to any challenge, understanding that each of us has a hand in writing America's destiny.

That is the spirit we are called to show once more. We are facing an array of challenges on a scale unseen in our time. We are waging two wars. We are battling a deep recession. And our economy – and our nation itself – are endangered by festering problems we have kicked down the road for far too long: spiraling health care costs; inadequate schools; and a dependence on foreign oil.

Meeting these extraordinary challenges will require an extraordinary effort on the part of every American. And that is an effort we cannot defer any longer.

Now is the time to lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity. Now is the time to revamp our education system, demand more from teachers, parents, and students alike, and build schools that prepare every child in America to outcompete any worker in the world.

Now is the time to reform an unsustainable health care system that is imposing crushing costs on families, businesses, large and small, and state and federal budgets. We need to protect what works, fix what's broken, and bring down costs for all Americans. No more talk. No more delay. Health care reform must happen this year.

And now is the time to meet our energy challenge – one of the greatest challenges we have ever confronted as a people or as a planet. For the sake of our economy and our children, we must build on the historic bill passed by the House of Representatives, and make clean energy the profitable kind of energy so that we can end our dependence on foreign oil and reclaim America's future.

These are some of the challenges that our generation has been called to meet. And yet, there are those who would have us try what has already failed; who would defend the status quo. They argue that our health care system is fine the way it is and that a clean energy economy can wait. They say we are trying to do too much, that we are moving too quickly, and that we all ought to just take a deep breath and scale back our goals.

These naysayers have short memories. They forget that we, as a people, did not get here by standing pat in a time of change. We did not get here by doing what was easy. That is not how a cluster of 13 colonies became the United States of America.

We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it. And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall two hundred and thirty-three years ago today.

That is how this generation of Americans will make its mark on history. That is how we will make the most of this extraordinary moment. And that is how we will write the next chapter in the great American story. Thank you, and Happy Fourth of July.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Steve, Columbia SC

    Just understand Mr President, we don't want what you're selling...............a nation where everything is regulated, controlled, and managed by a bloated, inefficient, corrupt, overspending government.

    The Soviet Union tried it for decades, and it failed miserably.

    July 4, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. GI Joe

    Oh come on. As the Songbird said, all we have to do is keep sticking our noses in everyone else's business (and keep the wars going, thus draining this country of every penny).

    Did we dodge a bullet when we chose Obama over McWarmonger and McBabble (his running mate)?

    You Betcha !!

    July 4, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  3. phoenix86

    Signing an $800 billion porkulus package? Increasing taxes? Running a deficit of $1.5 trillion in just 100 days? Spending without regard to paying back? Nationalizing two car companies?

    Seemed pretty easy to me.

    Spend, borrow and tax. That's always been the easy path for government.

    July 4, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  4. rachel

    hmm, cnn care to post Hillary's 4th of july address, guess not! Any way hope the Obama's have a nice holiday and a happy 11th Birthday to Malia. CNN post

    July 4, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. chubby

    Yep now obama has arrived and boy has he screwed it up.

    July 4, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Get where????

    Obama has no clue how to fix the economy, solve the unemployment problem or stem foreclosures.....

    He also has no clue how to handle N. Korea and Iran as they continue to mock hum every day.....

    This guy is doing nothing for us........

    What do we need him for??????

    July 4, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. Hugo

    Please, "extraordinary moment" = sky rocketing unemployment, insolvent banks, insolvent States? Someone please let President Obama know that the campaigning is over... Please lead now, put some of that fundamental common sense we all paid for in your education back into our government!

    July 4, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. MJM

    If you knew anything about spirits you would know that you are not suppose to summon spirits of any kind. That just proves that you are a godless president!!!

    July 4, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. the rector

    The spirit that inhabited independence hall was loathing and greed. The founders were tired of paying taxes they could keep for themselves and loathed being second class to the brits. So they whipped up a bunch of propaganda about taxation without representation and stole the colonies from thier sworn soverign. They set themselves and their friends up in power and took the rest of the continent from the indigenous people and never looked back. They also instituted the capitalist system as a key plank in their platform of renewal and change, which has led us to this disasterous state of affairs. So perhaps Mr O is right, maybe we should get tired of being bullied by our soverign and his croanies, and maybe we should take this country away from the bankers and lawyers and install our friends and croanies in positions of power. Mr president, are you suggesting revolution of the masses? No I think he is saying that those in power should remain in power and those of us who pay the bills should stay out of the way of his agenda and live with the consequences, like our forebarers. "When a long train of abuses and userpations evinces a disign toward a specific goal...... It is their right it is their DUTY to THROW OFF SUCH GOVERNMENT and provide new guards for their future security." Just a little rabble rousing for the fourth, enjoy your "freedom" while you can.

    July 4, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Champly

    Sorry Barry, but I fear the future.
    -I fear your Cuban style "health care" where life expectancy drops dramatically.
    -I fear your "energy policy" where you destroy our energy sources with nothing to replace them.
    -I fear your social policy which encourages behavior that spreads AIDs, drug abuse, poverty and anti-intellectualism amongst the "masses".
    -I fear your support of Marxist dictators in South America and Muslim terrorists around the world.
    -I fear your "egalitarianism for thee and not for me" attitude where you and your family live very extravagent lives while you demand sacrifice by me and my family.

    But what I fear the most is the willingness of many Americans to give up their freedoms in exchange for words and platitudes that come out of your mouth. Words and platitudes that are, in reality, deception and lies. Shame on you Barack Hussien Obama.

    July 4, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. Operation Crush Rush

    Thank you President Obama.We will not listen to the rightwing extremists who put their party ahead of our country.Their greed has brought them down and their greed will keep them from having a voice that the American people will hear.

    July 4, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. k

    Will this guy every stop talking and putting his mug on some form of media everyday and start to complete one task before attempting to tackle 10 others? Focus, buddy and shut your yapper...I was over the smooth talk back during the campaign! You're proving all of your critics right!

    July 4, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. Harley

    The SOCIALIST Obama says not to fear the future ? Why not he taxes, taxes !!! Running car companies , Runs banks Now he wants to run healthcare Hell he is scary . PEOPLE wanted CHANGE they GOT it !!!! OBAMA = ONE- BIG – ASS – MISTAKE – AMERICA !!!!!

    July 4, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Willy Brown

    Please resign and let people who know how to run a country do it.

    July 4, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Josh

    Well said. Too bad people now a days have the patience and attention spans of gnats.

    July 4, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. Champly

    Barry Obama is the King George III of 21st century America. He is highly educated but anti-intellectual. He looks down upon the American masses with disgust. He wants to control every minute of our lives. He and his family live very extravagant lives why he lectures us on excessive life styles (except of course for AIDs spreading behaviors). Barry Obama has a "vision" for the country that destorys the productive elements while encouraging the non-productive.

    July 4, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  17. Donkey Party

    Well said Mr. President. Too bad idiots like McCain are out there trying to undermine that message. According to McCain, last year we were "all Georgians", apparently now we are "all Iranians". Someone please take Grandpa to the home.

    July 4, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. Melissa

    Exactly. People in this country are so afraid of change that, despite hiring a President based on change, they STILL don't want it. But change is never easy. Its time to change. Whether people are afraid of it, or not.

    July 4, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. jeff

    Can't he just wish everyone a great holiday and not make it all about his agenda

    July 4, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Bob

    Wow....one of the more manipulative speeches I've heard in a long time, but of course folks in "our generation" won't realize that.

    Obama realizes he's got a problem because his health care plan is NOT supported, so now he appeals to the masses...his legions...to blindly follow his lead.

    What's next...a book about "My Life" that all "party" members are required to read?

    The sad part is that a lot of younger people are simply too naive or too proud to even consider they might be being manipulated. Even now, they read this (and other) comments with a sense of outrage, never realizing how much they are being manipulated by Obama at their (and their children's) long-term expense.

    One of the saddest 4th of July's that I can remember...the Founding Fathers would be deeply disturbed if they saw where this country was headed....further and further away from the Constitution and more and more to a socialist state. All that work they put into getting us off to a good start, and Obama and the Dems are destroying it virtually overnight.

    Very sad.

    July 4, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  21. Larry

    Happy 4th Mr. President. Thanks for caring so much about this country.

    July 4, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. Emilius Alpha

    I luv Obama's speech. God shld give him more wisdom,strength n boldness 2 lead American.

    July 4, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. worriedmom

    Ok Mr. Prez so then start acting like a true American and stick up for the U.S.A. not other coutries. Stop the talk and do some action that is good for the people, not your Unions, ACORN and Chicago thugs!

    July 4, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Mr. President, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your hard work in trying to restore this country the republicans destroyed. Despite the republicans efforts to obstruct the rebuilding of this country there are millions who support your efforts. Despite the lies they continue to tell about you we don't believe them and we know they are true. We see the republicans for the selfish, out for the rich only, liars they are. THank you again sir, you are doing phenomenal. Atleast you are trying to rebuild our country instead of Iraq.

    July 4, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. JT from MO

    I am happy that I can see to live a holday called Independence Day. President Obama is right. If it was not for all the hard work of our ancestors, we would either be speaking British, German, Russian, or all of them. We owe our thanks to those brave people back then, and we owe a big thanks to our men and women in uniform today for protecting our country. I know that is one thing all political parties in the United States agree on. God Bless America. Happy Fourth of July and good luck.

    July 4, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |