Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday said President Trump is a despot and a threat to American democracy, warning of dire and lasting consequences if voters don’t put a stop to him in November.
In his pitch at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama implored voters to turn out for Joseph R. Biden and stop Mr. Trump who “will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.
“The Commander-in-Chief doesn’t use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil,” he said. “They understand that political opponents aren’t ‘un-American’ just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn’t the ‘enemy’ but the way we hold officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depends on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up.”
Mr. Obama said none of these things should be controversial.
“These shouldn’t be Republican principles or Democratic principles. They’re American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who enable him, have shown they don’t believe in these things,” he said.
Mr. Obama is not the first former president to criticize his successor but the setting in a national arena and the tenor of the attack was nevertheless jarring.
Mr. Obama said Mr. Biden, his former vice president who is slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris can “lead this country out of these dark times and build it back better.”
“But here’s the thing: no single American can fix this country alone. Not even a president,” said Mr. Obama. “Democracy was never meant to be transactional – you give me your vote; I make everything better. It requires an active and informed citizenry. So I am also asking you to believe in your own ability – to embrace your own responsibility as citizens – to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure. Because that’s what at stake right now. Our democracy.”
He described a fight against Mr. Trump to make immigrants feel safe in the country, for Black Americans to believe the government works for them and workers to get a fair deal.
“I understand why a new immigrant might look around this country and wonder whether there’s still a place for him here; why a young person might look at politics right now, the circus of it all, the meanness and the lies and crazy conspiracy theories and think, what’s the point?”
He repeatedly emphasized the urgency of voting or early voting.
“Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power – those who benefit from keeping things the way they are – they are counting on your cynicism,” he said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”
“We can’t let that happen. Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy.”