Barack Obama has largely avoided criticizing Donald Trump on public, but in a speech to the Democratic National Convention, that finally changed
The Democratic National Convention is still ongoing, and the best and brightest of the Democratic party have been making inspiring speeches meant to convince as many voters as possible that, regardless of their political affiliations, we need Donald Trump out of office. On the third and penultimate night of the convention, former President Barack Obama delivered his speech, and along with it, some uncharacteristically blistering criticism of the Trump administration — particularly how Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, and the unique divisiveness he brings to the office.
“At a minimum, we should expect a president to feel a sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of all 330 million of us, regardless of what we look like, how we worship, who we love, how much money we have, or who we voted for,” Obama began his speech. But Trump “has shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in finding common ground, no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends, no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves,” Obama continued.
He added, “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone, our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.”
This kind of harsh rebuke is a little bit out of character for Obama. However painful it has to have been to watch his eight years of work get dismantled by this administration, he’s historically shied away from publicly criticizing Trump. But apparently not anymore. And that decision came just in time. The more people are forced to confront Trump’s failures before the election, the better.
Obama also made a plea to those who may be lukewarm about voting this year. “Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” he said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.”
“We can’t let that happen,” he urges. “Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy. Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote.”
Later in his nearly 20-minute speech, Obama called his former Vice President, Joe Biden, his “brother,” and urged everyone listening to trust in Biden’s ability — with Kamala Harris at his side — to turn this ship around.
“Tonight, I am asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times and build it back better,” he said. “But here’s the thing: no single American can fix this country alone. Not even a president. Democracy was never meant to be transactional — you give me your vote; I make everything better. It requires an active and informed citizenry. So I am also asking you to believe in your own ability — to embrace your own responsibility as citizens — to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure.”
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