In His First Major Speech Before the Midterms, Obama Finally Rebukes Trump by Name

Barack is back—and he’s not pulling any punches.


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.”

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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