WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama reminded a stunned nation on Wednesday morning that people across the country “are Americans first” and encouraged younger generations to not be “cynical.”
Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden to deliver remarks hours after Donald Trump was declared the president-elect of the United States. Obama, who said he had spoken to Trump on Wednesday morning, promised to make the transition between his administration and Trump’s as seamless as possible.
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember we’re actually all on one team,” Obama said. “This is an intramural scrimmage. We are Americans first; we are patriots first.”
A peaceful transition is key, Obama said, because everyone is now “rooting for [Trump’s] success in uniting and leading the country.”
“A peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy, and over the next few months we are going to show that to the world,” he said.
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage.”
Obama said he was “heartened” by his conversation with Trump, who agreed that unity was important after such a bitter election cycle.
“That’s what the country needs,” Obama said. “A sense of unity, a sense of inclusion.”
Obama said he is hopeful that Trump will maintain “that spirit throughout this transition.”
The president then urged younger voters to continue fighting for what is right.
“To the young people who got into politics for the first time and may be disappointed by the results, I just want you to know you have to stay encouraged,” he said. “Don’t get cynical. Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference.”
Obama praised Hillary Clinton for her hard-fought campaign and her service to the country.
“Her candidacy and nomination was historic and sends a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest level of politics,” he said.
But, Obama added, “the path this country has taken has never been a straight line ― we zig and zag.”
“The point, though is, is that we all go forward with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy,” he said. “That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years.”