Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday abandoned his signature message of hope and change in his Democrat convention speech, choosing instead to deliver a dark warning to Americans led by President Donald Trump.
The only time the president used the word “hope” was when he described his first time sitting with President-elect Trump in the Oval Office.
“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously,” he said, signaling his disappointment with the tone of his presidency.
The only time the president used the word “change” was to warn of climate change and to speak of the “long-overdue changes” in the economy that his former Vice President Joe Biden could fix.
Obama only had negative things to say about his successor, describing him as a threat to America’s democracy and institutions.
He blamed Trump for the 170,000 Americans killed by coronavirus and the loss of millions of jobs, as well as unleashing America’s “worst impulses,” and diminishing America’s reputation in the world.
Obama also criticized Trump for attacking the media, deploying military forces against violent protesters, and “just making stuff up” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“These shouldn’t be Republican principles or Democratic principles,” he said. “They’re American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who enable him have shown they don’t believe in these things.”
Speaking at the Museum of the Revolution, Obama noted that the Constitution “wasn’t a perfect document” said that Americans had to continue struggling to make the country better.
Focusing on the ongoing “struggle” in the country, he reminded Americans of their racist past, and their mistreatment of immigrants and black people throughout history.
Obama praised the protests that rose up during Trump’s presidency, including the George Floyd protests over the summer. The protesters, he argued, were the true representation of America’s values.
“I’ve seen that same spirit rising these past few years. … Americans of all races joining together to declare, in the face of injustice and brutality at the hands of the state, that Black Lives Matter, no more, but no less, so that no child in this country feels the continuing sting of racism,” he said.
American democracy, Obama warned, was threatened by Trump’s presidency, adding that his power came from cynical Americans.
“This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win,” he concluded. “So we have to get busy building it up.”