Speaking in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Former President Barack Obama spoke to 15,000 people in celebration of the 100 year anniversary since Nelson Mandela’s birth. Obama spoke with sadness about how some among us are still blaming those who are different from us for our troubles and warned of the dangers of “strongman politics” which are undermining western democracies.
Video of Obama’s full speech:
“I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts. Look around: strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections in some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning. In the West, you’ve got far right parties that often times are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism.”
Obama spoke eloquently, as always, on the many troubling issues facing people around the world in these times of strongman politics, including immigration. The former president said, “We can enforce the law while respecting the essential humanity of those striving for a better life.”
Obama called these times “strange and uncertain,” although he never mentioned Trump by name, he made it clear when he said, “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”
Obama reminded us of what is best about America and democracies, saying our culture of looking after people who aren’t the most powerful is a big part of that culture. Obama himself is a living testimony to the greatness of a democracy.
The former president was alarmed by what’s going on with his successor and that is troubling on its own, given his well-earned reputation as No Drama Obama.
Yesterday Donald Trump stood next to the man who uses state run propaganda, fake elections and under whom, journalists are killed, and President Trump sided with that man.
Today, former President Obama reminded us what democracy sounds like, what it looks like, and what is at stake.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
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