On the last day of his presidency, President Obama is preparing to hand over the keys to the official @POTUS Twitter account and White House website (as well as the nuclear codes, Air Force One, and just about everything else). But on his way out the door, he unveiled Obama.org, the website for his presidential center, a “living, working center for citizenship” on the South Side of Chicago.
“As I’ve said many times before, true democracy is a project that’s much bigger than any one of us,” Obama said in a video announcing the project. “It’s bigger than any one persona, any one president, any one government.”
After Obama and first lady Michelle Obama take a break and, as Michelle Obama put it, “get some sleep, take some time to be with our family, and just be still for a little bit,” Obama promised the center’s work will get underway.
Right now the center’s website, at Obama.org, is pretty sparse; its main content is a series of photo galleries and a multimedia timeline hitting the highlights of Obama’s early life and his presidency. For Obama’s fans, the galleries are playing the greatest hits: There’s one of of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (“Brotherhood”), of the president and (other people’s) kids, and of the White House dogs, Bo and Sunny.
There’s also a call for people to submit their ideas about what it means to be a good citizen. A center to promote citizenship — like the Obamas’ speeches, in their final days in office, defending democracy and calling for Americans to protect it — is an initiative that takes on a slightly different tone as a new president who has delighted in breaking democratic norms comes into office.
Obama has already said that if Trump threatens voting rights, attempts to silence dissent, or carries out mass deportations of “kids who have grown up here,” he won’t be silent — a warning that it’s hard to imagine previous presidents giving to their successors.
“It’s a job for all of us,” Obama said in the video. “It requires everyday, sustained effort from all of us. The work of perfecting our union is never finished, and we look forward to joining you in that effort as fellow citizens.”