Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Daily Updates

Obama rebukes Trump’s ‘radical’ politics of ‘fear’

He exhorts U. of Illinois students to vote in November midterm elections


    Former President Barack Obama gives a hug to Rachel Peterson as he makes a campaign stop at Caffe Paradiso with Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, right, after speaking Friday at University of Illinois in Urbana.

    Tribune News Service

URBANA, Ill. — Former President Barack Obama used an appearance at the University of Illinois on Friday to vilify Donald Trump and the Republicans who control Congress, calling the GOP “radical” in using fear and division to hold power under the controversial president’s leadership.

Exhorting students to vote in the November midterm elections and presenting a Democratic message, the former home-state president repeatedly chastised the current state of GOP-led politics as not “normal,” including an anonymous White House administration official’s recent description of a group running government in spite of an impetuous Trump.

Obama’s strong partisan rhetoric and critique of the Trump administration is at odds with the long-standing tradition that even he mentioned which has former presidents largely remaining silent about their successors. It also signals a more active role for Obama on the campaign trail on behalf of Democrats trying to overturn GOP control of the House and Senate.

Obama called Trump “a symptom, not the cause” of “a fear and an anger that’s rooted in our past” involving racial and economic divisions that have been exploited by politicians for years.

“Appealing to tribe, appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those who don’t look like us, or don’t sound like us or don’t pray like we do — that’s an old playbook. It’s as old as time. And, in a healthy democracy, it doesn’t work,” Obama said.

‘Keep us divided’

But Obama contended the current state of politics conducted by Republicans in an era of increased technology and economic inequality has been “manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because that helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege.”

He criticized Republican efforts to curb or remove laws involving voting rights, campaign finance limits and the social safety net while backing tax cuts and embracing “wild conspiracy theories,” including one once endorsed by Trump — that Obama was not born in the U.S.

Noting Trump’s efforts to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin while U.S. intelligence has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, Obama asked, “What happened to the Republican Party?

“Its central organizing principal in foreign policy was the fight against communism and now they’re cozying up to the former head of the KGB, actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from Russian attack. What happened?” he said.

In addition, the former president said Americans concerned about Trump’s presidency should be troubled by assurances contained in a recent op-ed in the New York Times from a “senior administration official” who said there was a group in the White House keeping government functioning and often working against the president.

“By the way, that claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren’t following the president’s orders? That is not a check,” Obama said.

“That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. These people aren’t elected. They’re not accountable. They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this White House and then saying, ‘Don’t worry. We’re preventing the other 10 percent.’ That’s not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal.”

Obama touted his own administration’s record in the aftermath of the Great Recession and rebuked Republicans for calling job growth and economic expansion now a “miracle.”

‘Antidote’ to Trump

Citing a history of lack of civic involvement and engagement by younger voters, Obama said the “antidote” to Trump’s government was “a government by the organized, energized, inclusive many.”

“You cannot sit back and wait for a savior. You can’t opt out because you don’t feel sufficiently inspired by a particular candidate,” he said. “We don’t need a messiah. All we need is decent, honest, hard-working people who are accountable and have America’s best interest at heart.”

Trump, speaking at an event in North Dakota, reacted to Obama’s speech by saying, “I’m sorry, I watched it, but I fell asleep.”

Obama’s remarks came as he accepted the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government from the University of Illinois system’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Tribune News Service

Click to comment


© 2018 Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, WI. All rights reserved.

To Top
Applying filter…