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.”

Obama Campaigns Against Trump

“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."

Posted by Mother Jones Video on Friday, September 7, 2018

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.