San Jose, California
September 25, 2011
8:09 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. I'm just letting Zuckerberg know, I'm taking her on the road. (Laughter.) So somebody else is going to have to manage things while she's gone.
Thank you so much, Sheryl and David and the kids, for opening up this beautiful home. Thank you all for being here tonight.
I don't want to spend too much time just in monologue. I want to -- I know that one of the hallmarks of Silicon Valley and the Internet is that it's a two-way thing, it's not just one-way. So I want to make sure that we have a good conversation. But let me just say a couple of things off the top.
First of all, many of you have been involved in my campaign, dating back to 2008. Some of you I'm meeting for the first time. But all of you have a commitment to a particular vision of what America should be. Everybody here believes that the reason America is so special is because everybody can make it if they try -- at least that's the ideal that we cling to. We all believe that education has to be not just the province of a few, but a gift for the many, because that's not only good for our kids but that's good for our economic future. We're all committed to innovation and science, and a belief that if you unleash the skills and the talents of people, that it's possible for us to create an economy that is doing well but where prosperity is also broadly shared. We all believe in an America where it shouldn't matter where you come from, or what you look like, or who you love, but rather do you have values and gifts and talents that you're sharing with other Americans as citizens.
And those values are going to be tested in this election -- the values of shared prosperity, being good stewards of the environment, making sure that we are investing in our kids, making sure that everybody has a shot. Those values are going to be tested. And so if 2008 was an important election, let me tell you 2012 is an even more important election -- because of all the reasons that Sheryl noted.
The American people are going through a very tough time. This is a big transition -- and by the way, it's not unique to America. This is a global shift that's taking place. We've got a world that has shrunk and is interconnected and is more competitive than ever. And every country out there is trying to adjust and trying to figure out, how do we make sure we've got the best educated citizens, and how do we make sure we've got the most dynamic, innovative economy, and how are we making sure that we're investing in industries of the future, like clean energy, and how do we make certain that in our international affairs we're projecting power not just based on our military but also based on our diplomacy and the power of our ideas.
And those changes that are taking place are scary. And given that we’ve just gone through the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes -- I’m looking around the room and I don’t think too many folks were around back in the 1930s. Just a guess. (Laughter.) Given that so many Americans are still out there hurting each and every day, and although we’ve been able to stabilize the economy from what could have been a worse catastrophe -- we’ve got 9 percent unemployment. And I get letters every single day from folks who are losing their homes and seeing their businesses shut down, not being able to work enough hours to pay the bills at the end of the month, or having to defer their retirement in order to make sure their kids go to college.
Given all the stresses and strains that ordinary folks are feeling, and given the fact that some of the challenges we faced had been building up even before this financial crisis hit -- and so the imperatives of having an energy policy that actually works for America and frees ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, and improves our economy, and makes sure that our planet doesn’t reach a tipping point in terms of climate change; a health care system that is still hugely inefficient; an education system that’s not educating enough of our kids; under-investment in infrastructure and basic research -- those challenges, those existed even before this crisis.
Given all that’s happening, if we don’t make good decisions now, then we may be making a set of decisions that have dire consequences for not just this generation but for many generations to come. Most of the people under this tent will be fine, but America won’t reflect the same ideals and values and possibilities that we grew up with.
And I don’t know about you, but I believe in a big, generous, optimistic, tolerant, vibrant, diverse America -- not a cramped vision of what America can be. But we’re going to have to fight for that vision. It’s not going to be easy. And the only way that we’re going to be successful in 2012 is if people feel as much passion and understand what’s at stake and are willing to fight for the kind of America they believe in as we did back in 2008.
I still remember -- you were mentioning Inauguration Day. What I remember is the night of the election. And we were in Chicago, and it was a really beautiful night. Everybody has fond memories of the "hope" poster and Oprah crying. (Laughter.) But I hope people also remember I said, this is not the end, this is the beginning. This is just the start. And we didn’t get into this fix overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight. We’ve got a steep hill to climb.
And Sheryl is right, we’ve made enormous progress over the last two and a half years -- everything from making sure 30 million people have health care who didn’t have it before to making sure that we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars, to making sure that we ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to making sure that we signed into law the basic notion that there should be equal pay for equal work, to getting 100,000 troops out of Iraq. We’ve made enormous progress, but we’ve got a lot more work to do. And I'm ready to do it, but I can only do it if I’ve got your help.
So I appreciate you being here tonight. But understand, just as we were just starting on Election Night, I’ll tell you what, we’re not even halfway through our journey yet. We’ve got a lot more work to do and I’m going to need all of you to be willing to join me.
All right, thank you very much. (Applause.)
8:19 P.M. PDT