President Barack Obama took his future-minded approach down to SXSW in Austin on Friday, delivering a hopeful message for those frustrated with government’s seeming hesitance to embrace technology at an appropriate rate. Obama, delivering the keynote for the tech corner of the heavily hyped Texan party, called on those gathered at SXSW and beyond to continue being actively engaged in politics and the world around them using any of the rapidly evolving methods available to them.
"I am trying to solve every problem," Obama joked during the discussion with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith. Noting that he was thrilled to be surrounded by the high concentration of talent and innovation in Austin, Obama appealed to the creativity of the tech community in an attempt to inspire everyone to keep progress afloat once he leaves the White House. "The slogan was not 'Yes I can,'" Obama told the audience. "It was 'Yes we can.'"
Obama, who is now the first sitting U.S. president to have ever paid a visit to SXSW, took aim at many states' hesitance (and often outright refusal) to embrace the digitization of the voting process. "We have to make sure, given the power of the space, everyone is plugged in," Obama said, as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter. Adding that his administration is currently working on increasing internet access to those in underprivileged areas, Obama insisted that progress was happening despite the media's "cynical" tendency to ignore such reports in favor of something more negative.
When pressed by Smith for his thoughts on the controversial (and ongoing) Apple v FBI battle, Obama cautioned against "taking an absolutist view" on the issue. "This notion that somehow our data is different and can be walled off from those other tradeoffs we make, I believe is incorrect," Obama told the audience. "The politics of this will swing," Obama noted, urging those to pay attention to the "civil liberty" aspect of the case (the specifics of which he obviously can't comment on).
However, as your timeline likely informed you, perhaps the most memorable moment in Obama's historic address came when he destroyed the haters with a spin on an old anti-Obama phrase. "Thanks Obama," POTUS delightfully quipped when flexing about the hella low unemployment rate: