In his first major address since leaving office in early 2017, former President Barack Obama spoke to a crowd in South Africa commemorating the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela — and gave a scathing critique of the global political crisis that Donald Trump has capitalized upon.
“At the end of the 20th century, while some Western commentators were declaring the end of history and the inevitable triumph of liberal democracy and the virtues of the global supply chain, so many missed signs of a brewing backlash,” the 44th president told the assembled crowd of roughly 15,00 people. “A backlash that arrived in so many forms.”
The backlash took many forms, most prominently in the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Obama said. But it also became present in Russia.
“Already humiliated by the collapse of the Soviet Union, [Russia] suddenly started reasserting authoritarian control, and in some cases meddling with its neighbors,” he said, referencing the country’s incursions into Crimea and, perhaps, its attacks on the 2016 presidential election.
“You started seeing populist movements — which, by the way, are often cynically funded by right-wing billionaires intent on reducing government constraints on their business interests — these movements tapped the unease that was felt by many people who lived outside of the urban cores, fears that economic security was slipping away,” Obama continued. “That their social status and privileges were eroding. That their cultural identities were being threatened by outsiders, somebody that didn’t look like them or sound like them or pray as they did.”
The 2008 financial collapse, Obama said, “resulted in years of hardship for ordinary people all around the world and made all the previous assurances of experts ring hollow, all those assurances that somehow financial regulators knew what they were doing.”
In a sly reference to Trump’s propensity to take credit for economic upticks, Obama noted that “because of the actions taken by governments during and after that crisis — including, I should add, by aggressive steps by my administration — the global economy has now returned to healthy growth.”
Nevertheless, “the credibility of the international system, faith in experts in places like Washington or Brussels, all that had taken a blow.”
“And a politics of fear and of resentment and retrenchment began to appear,” the former president said. “And that kind of politics is now on the move. It’s on a move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago.”
“Look around,” he implored the crowd. “Strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and 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.”
He blasted Western countries for allowing far-right parties and figures to take power “based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely-hidden racial nationalism.”
“Many developing countries now are looking at China’s model of authoritarian control combined with mercantilist capitalism as preferable to the messiness of democracy,” he added. “Who needs free speech as long as the economy is going good?”
“The free press is under attack,” Obama continued, deploying another jab at Trump. “Censorship and state control of media is on the rise.”
“Social media, once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity, has proven to be just as effective at promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories,” the former president said to raucous applause.
“So, on Madiba’s 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads,” Obama foreshadowed. “A moment in time at which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world.”
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Obamas Take Rare, Thinly-Veiled Swipe at Trump After Domestic Terror Mass Shootings: ‘Reject’ Leaders ‘Who Demonize’
Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama issued a statement in the wake of this weekend’s domestic terror mass shootings that took the lives of now 31 people. Their words are a rare and thinly-veiled swipe at President Donald Trump.
“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments,” the Obamas say in their statement, clearly launching an attack against President Trump. They added, “leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.”
“Such language isn’t new,” they continue, “it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world.”
Read their full statement:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 5, 2019
Image: “President Barack Obama pauses during a meeting to observe a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 2012, in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14.”
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza via Flickr
As Trump Looks on, President Macron Speaks out on Nationalism.
As world leaders looked on, French President Emmanuel Macron took a moment in his speech at Armistice Day in France to speak out against the rise of nationalism.
Amongst those in attendance were US president Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron told the crowd. “By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”
“I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface,” added Macron. “They are ready to wreak chaos and death. History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.”
The speech is largely seen as a rebuke of Donald Trump. Trump declared himself a nationalist near the end of November.
“A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that,” Trump said at a Houston, Texas rally on the 23rd of October.
“You know, they have a word — it’s sort of became old-fashioned — it’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, okay? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist. Nothing wrong. Use that word. Use that word.”
The president did not show an immediate reply, sitting quietly, often with his head down during Macron’s speech. There has not yet been a reply from the White House to Macron’s statements.
Donald Trump has been resoundingly criticized for not taking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I seriously. He skipped out of a visit to an American military cemetery outside of Paris yesterday due to a threatened rainstorm, and did not walk with other world leaders in France today.
View all of Marcon’s speech.
Image via screen capture from video source.
Watch: Obama Delivers Barn Burning Speech Reminding Democrats That ‘Hope Spreads’ (Full Video)
The crowd did not stop cheering and applauding during former President Barack Obama’s barn-burning speech in Florida Friday afternoon. For more than 50 minutes President Obama reminded Democrats how an inspiring president makes them feel, and urged them to vote for Andrew Gillum for governor, and to re-elect Senator Bill Nelson.
President Obama did not mince words or hold back, and although he did not mention President Trump by name, his criticisms were clearly directed toward the current Oval Office occupant.
“Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” Obama asked rally-goers. “When I won the presidency, at least my side felt pretty good.”
“Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” former Pres. Obama asks at Miami rally.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 2, 2018
Obama called Trump outmatches for his lies, reminding Americans the effect they have on children.
“When truth doesn’t matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can’t work,” former Pres. Obama says.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 2, 2018
And he mocked Trump for sending troops to the border over the holidays in a “stunt” before the midterm elections.
In 2010, Republicans said death panels would get you.
In 2014, they said it was Ebola.
In 2016, they said it was Hillary’s emails.
Now in 2018, they’re blaming a bunch of poor refugees 1,000 miles away.
It’s another political stunt.pic.twitter.com/3ponAVMImo
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) November 2, 2018
Here’s the full video. Notice the grace with which Obama handled a few hecklers at the beginning of his speech.
LIVE: Former Pres. Barack Obama campaigns for Democrats in Florida. https://t.co/nW7BMa9A0h
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 2, 2018
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