Remarks by the President on Election Night
Special to The Informer | 11/7/2012, 11:06 a.m.
Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock, or solve all our problems, or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus, and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.
Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. (Applause.) And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better President. With your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do, and the future that lies ahead. (Applause.)
Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. (Applause.) You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit; reforming our tax code; fixing our immigration system; freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do. (Applause.)
But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America has never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. (Applause.) That's the principle we were founded on.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth -- the belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations; that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great. (Applause.)
I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.
I've seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them, watching their back. (Applause.)