Barack Obama photo

The President's Weekly Address

February 13, 2016

Hi, everybody. I'm speaking to you today from Springfield, Illinois. I spent 8 years in the State senate here. It was a place where, for all of our surface differences in a State as diverse as Illinois, my colleagues and I actually shared a lot in common. We fought for our principles, we voted against each other, but because we assumed the best in one another and not the worst, we found room for progress. We bridged differences to get things done.

In my travels through this State, I saw most Americans do the same. Folks know that issues are complicated and that people with different ideas might have a point. It convinced me that if we just approached our politics the same way we approach our daily lives—with common sense, a commitment to fairness, and the belief that we're all in this together—then there's nothing that we cannot do.

That's why I announced right here in Springfield that I was running for President. And my faith in the generosity and fundamental goodness of the American people is rewarded and affirmed every single day.

But I'll be the first to admit that the tone of our politics hasn't gotten better, but worse. Too many people feel like the system is rigged and their voices don't matter. And when good people are pushed away from participating in our public life, more powerful and extreme voices will fill the void. They'll be the ones who gain control over decisions that could send a young soldier to war or allow another economic crisis or roll back the rights that generations of Americans have fought to secure.

The good news is, there's also a lot we can do about this, from reducing the influence of money in our politics to changing the way we draw congressional districts, to simply changing the way we treat each other. That's what I came back here to talk about this week. And I hope you check out my full speech at

One thing I focused on, for example, was how we can make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. Here in Illinois, a new law allows citizens to register and vote at the polls on election day. It also expands early voting, which makes it much easier for working folks and busy parents. We're also considering automatic voter registration for every citizen when they apply for a driver's license. And I'm calling on more States to adopt steps like these. Because when more of us vote, the less captive our politics will be to narrow interests and the better our democracy will be for our children.

Nine years after I first announced for this office, I still believe in a politics of hope. And for all the challenges of a changing world, for all the imperfections of our democracy, choosing a politics of hope is something that's entirely up to each of us.

Thanks, everybody.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 2:15 p.m. on February 10 in the Senate Chamber at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, IL, for broadcast on February 13. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on February 12, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on February 13. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of this address.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives