Full Text: Clinton Farewell Address

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2001 -- -- Following is the full text of President Bill Clinton’s farewell address to the nation on Jan. 18, 2001.

"My fellow citizens, tonight is my last opportunity tospeak to you from the Oval Office as your president.

I am profoundly grateful to you for twice giving me the honor toserve, to work for you and with you to prepare our nation for the 21stcentury. And I'm grateful to Vice President Gore, to my Cabinetsecretaries, and to all those who have served with me for the lasteight years.

This has been a time of dramatic transformation, and you haverisen to every new challenge. You have made our social fabricstronger, our families healthier and safer, our people moreprosperous.

You, the American people, have made our passage into the globalinformation age an era of great American renewal.

In all the work I have done as president, every decision I havemade, every executive action I have taken, every bill I have proposedand signed, I've tried to give all Americans the tools and conditionsto build the future of our dreams, in a good society, with a strongeconomy, a cleaner environment, and a freer, safer, more prosperousworld.

I have steered my course by our enduring values. Opportunity forall. Responsibility from all. A community of all Americans. I havesought to give America a new kind of government, smaller, more modern,more effective, full of ideas and policies appropriate to this newtime, always putting people first, always focusing on the future.

Working together, America has done well. Our economy is breakingrecords, with more than 22 million new jobs, the lowest unemploymentin 30 years, the highest home ownership ever, the longest expansion inhistory.

Our families and communities are stronger. Thirty-fivemillion Americans have used the family leave law. Eight million havemoved off welfare. Crime is at a 25-year low. Over 10 millionAmericans receive more college aid, and more people than ever aregoing to college. Our schools are better -- higher standards, greateraccountability and larger investments have brought higher test scores,and higher graduation rates.

More than three million children have health insurance now, andmore than 7 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty.Incomes are rising across the board. Our air and water are cleaner.Our food and drinking water are safer. And more of our precious landhas been preserved, in the continental United States, than at any timein 100 years.

America has been a force for peace and prosperity in every cornerof the globe.

I'm very grateful to be able to turn over the reins of leadershipto a new president, with America in such a strong position to meet thechallenges of the future.

Tonight, I want to leave you with three thoughts about ourfuture. First, America must maintain our record of fiscalresponsibility. Through our last four budgets, we've turned recorddeficits to record surpluses, and we've been able to pay down $600billion of our national debt, on track to be debt free by the end ofthe decade for the first time since 1835.

Staying on that course will bring lower interest rates,greater prosperity and the opportunity to meet our big challenges. Ifwe choose wisely, we can pay down the debt, deal with the retirementof the baby boomers, invest more in our future and provide tax relief.

Second, because the world is more connected every day in everyway, America's security and prosperity require us to continue to leadin the world. At this remarkable moment in history, more people livein freedom that ever before. Our alliances are stronger than ever.People all around the world look to America to be a force for peaceand prosperity, freedom and security. The global economy is givingmore of our own people, and billions around the world, the chance towork and live and raise their families with dignity.

But the forces of integration that have created these goodopportunities also make us more subject to global forces ofdestruction, to terrorism, organized crime and narco-trafficking, thespread of deadly weapons and disease, the degradation of the globalenvironment.

The expansion of trade hasn't fully closed the gap between thoseof us who live on the cutting edge of the global economy and thebillions around the world who live on the knife's edge of survival.This global gap requires more than compassion. Itrequires action. Global poverty is a powder keg that could be ignitedby our indifference.

In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson warned ofentangling alliances. But in our times, America cannot and must notdisentangle itself from the world. If we want the world to embody ourshared values, then we must assume a shared responsibility.

If the wars of the 20th century, especially the recent ones inKosovo and Bosnia, have taught us anything, it is that we achieve ouraims by defending our values and leading the forces of freedom andpeace. We must embrace boldly and resolutely that duty to lead, tostand with our allies in word and deed, and to put a human face on theglobal economy so that expanded trade benefits all people in allnations, lifting lives and hopes all across the world.

Third, we must remember that America cannot lead in the worldunless here at home we weave the threads of our coat of many colorsinto the fabric of one America. As we become ever more diverse, wemust work harder to unite around our common values and our commonhumanity.

We must work harder to overcome our differences. Inour hearts and in our laws, we must treat all our people with fairnessand dignity, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexualorientation and regardless of when they arrived in our country, alwaysmoving toward the more perfect union of our founders' dreams.

Hillary, Chelsea and I join all Americans in wishing our verybest to the next president, George W. Bush, to his family and hisadministration in meeting these challenges and in leading freedom'smarch in this new century.

As for me, I'll leave the presidency more idealistic, more fullof hope than the day I arrived and more confident than ever thatAmerica's best days lie ahead.

My days in this office are nearly through, but my days ofservice, I hope, are not. In the years ahead, I will never hold aposition higher or a covenant more sacred than that of president ofthe United States. But there is no title I will wear more proudlythan that of citizen.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America."

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