In his clearest and most vigorous public rebuke of his successor yet, Barack Obama on Friday called out the politics of President Donald Trump while urging young people to vote in the November elections to reject a government ruled by fear and resentment.
“Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different,” the former president said during an event at the University of Illinois. “The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”
He continued by describing the efforts of the “status quo” to push against progress. “You happen to be coming of age during one of those moments,” Obama said. “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years. A fear, an anger that is rooted in our past, but is also born in our enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
The call to action speech, which marks the public opening of Obama’s efforts to boost Democrats ahead of the midterm elections, featured condemnations of some of the most contentious aspects of Trump’s presidency, including his successor’s ongoing attacks on the attorney general, law enforcement, and the press. He also mocked Trump’s slow response to condemn white nationalists during the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. “How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?” Obama said.
“If elections don’t matter, I hope the last two years have corrected that impression,” Obama said near the end of the speech, prompting applause. “Don’t hashtag, don’t get anxious, don’t retreat, don’t binge on whatever it is you’re binging on.”
“Don’t boo, vote.”