“I had the cast of “Hamilton” at the White House yesterday, who are doing an incredible job getting…”

I had the cast of “Hamilton” at the White House yesterday, who are doing an incredible job getting our young people excited about the possibilities of democracy and the power they have to play a part in it. And these young people drawn from every race and every background from all across the city, you could just see the excitement that they had, the notion that they were somehow connected to the story of a Hamilton, or a Washington, or a Franklin, or a Madison. And so we should be asking ourselves — as those in power with this incredible legacy — whether we are delivering that same message to our children. Are we making them excited about being citizens of this great country?

So when we leave this lunch, I think we have a choice. We can condone this race to the bottom, or accept it as the way things are and sink further. Or we can roundly reject this kind of behavior, whether we see it in the other party, or more importantly, when we see it in our own party, and set a better example for our children and the rest of the country to follow. It starts with us.

Speaker Ryan, you and I don’t agree on a lot of policy. But I know you are a great father and a great husband, and I know you want what’s best for America. And we may fiercely disagree on policy — and the NFC North — (laughter) — but I don’t have a bad word to say about you as a man. And I would never insult my fellow Irish like that.

The point is, we can have political debates without turning on one another. We can disagree without assuming that it’s motivated by malice. There are those here who have fought long and hard to create peace in Northern Ireland and understand what happens when we start going into these dark places, the damage that can be done, and how long it can take to unwind.

So we can treat one another as patriots even if we disagree, as fellow Americans who love this country equally, because it’s a place that frees us to have different ideas and different points of view.

So I reject any effort to spread fear, or encourage violence, or to shut people down when they’re trying to speak, or turn Americans against one another. And I think as a citizen who will still be leading this office, I will not support somebody who practices that kind of politics. And any leader worthy of our support will remind us that even in a country as big and diverse and as inclusive as ours, what we have in common is far bigger and more important than any of our differences.

That’s what carried us through other times that were far more tough and far more dangerous than the one that we’re in today -– times where we were told to fear the future; times where we were told to turn inward and to turn against each other. And each time, we overcame those fears. Each time, we faced the future with confidence in who we are and what we stand for, and the incredible things that we’re capable of together.

And we do this because we are America. It’s a place that sees opportunity where others see peril, and that drew so many Irish and other immigrants to our shores. Our unbending belief that we make our own destiny and our unshakable dream that if we work hard and live up to our responsibilities, and if we look out for one another, then there is a better day lying right around the bend.

That dream has always come true in America. It is what provided hope and comfort and opportunity for so many that traveled across the Atlantic. It always will — so long as we nurture it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody. Let me make a toast.

Barack Obama at the Congressional St. Patrick’s Day luncheon

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Tags: thanks, let me know if you think I'm posting too much poltics, it's very much my goal not to do that, but I might slip into it by degrees, if well-meaning friends don't let me know.

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