President Barack Obama goes before Congress Tuesday night to shape history more than legislation.

The optimistic portrait of progress and possibility aides say Obama will deliver in his last State of the Union address lifts the curtain on a final year in office in which he will try to extend the influence of his presidency by securing the election of a Democratic successor.

Just as important for Obama is defining his two terms in the Oval Office in a way that inspires lasting allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Obama will reflect on seven years of unbroken economic success climbing out of the 2008-09 Great Recession. But for some, including many of Obama’s strongest supporters in the black community, recovery has been elusive, In addition, global terrorism arriving in the West -- from Paris to San Bernardino, California -- will make it hard for Obama to put a wholly upbeat spin on what has become a nervous time for many Americans.

The contrast Obama will draw, between a nation on the brink of economic calamity in 2009 to one of robust jobs growth and what many consider full employment, is intended to provide a purposeful, pointed contrast to the dystopian narrative of a crumbling, embattled America portrayed in the 2016 Republican nominating contest dominated by billionaire Donald Trump.

‘Very Optimistic’

Obama is “very optimistic about this future,’’ Denis McDonough, Obama’s chief of staff, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” broadcast. “And that, by the way, is something that’s a little different than some of the doom and gloom that we hear from the Republican candidates out there every day.’’

Tuesday’s speech may be the president’s last chance before November’s presidential election to command the national stage with an extended address on his own terms. The 2016 campaign, kicking off with caucuses in Iowa Feb. 1, is about to dominate the national political conversation. And yet even as attention is drawn to the selection of his successor, Obama has made it clear he doesn’t intend to fade away.

Obama’s Outlook

Aides said he will use the moment to place the achievements of his administration in historical context, and speak in high- level, almost philosophical terms of a vision for the country stretching well beyond the next election. There won’t be much of a legislative agenda laid out for a Congress that’s under hostile Republican control.

“What he wants to do on Tuesday night is talk about the kind of country that he hopes will be present -- not just during the course of this year and this election year, but rather over the course of the next 20 years,” said McDonough.

While McDonough and other White House aides wouldn’t describe the specific themes of the speech, a central element is expected to be a review of Obama’s record.