Former President Barack Obama complained Thursday that American politics had reverted to the “19th century.”
Obama was stumping for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, according to The Hill.
“But what we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before, that dates back centuries,” he said. “Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. I mean, that’s folks lookin’ fifty years back. This is the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!”
During his time in office, Obama was regarded as one of the most divisive presidents in recent American history, playing on class resentment and racial grievances to mobilize his voting base. He preferred confrontation to cooperation with Republicans in Congress. In contrast to former President Bill Clinton, who moved to the center after his party lost the 1994 midterm elections, Obama doubled down on left-wing policies each time his party lost seats on Capitol Hill.
Obama’s complaint about the “19th century” echoes a similar complaint made by his administration. In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry complained that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behaving in a “19th century fashion” rather than obeying the niceties of 21st century diplomacy when he invaded Crimea. Critics called that a sign of the naïveté of the administration in assuming that concerns about territory, and defensible borders, were outdated.
On Thursday, Obama appeared to be accusing Republicans of racism, referring to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and the struggle against slavery in the 19th century.
At a rally the same day in Virginia, Obama complained: “Instead of our politics reflecting our values, we’ve got politics infecting our communities.”
On the campaign trail in 2008, however, Obama told supporters to “Talk to your neighbors … argue with them, and get in their face” to help him win the presidency.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
This article has been updated to include Obama’s Virginia comments.