Former US President Barack Obama has no illusions about what is happening today within the Republicans. In his opinion, the mandate of his successor, Donald Trump, totally altered the substance of the conservative party on the verge of denying most of its historical postulates.
“They have been intimidated into accepting a series of positions that five years or a decade ago would be unrecognizable and unacceptable,” for which “I am extremely concerned about the state of democracy in the United States today,” Obama said in a extensive interview to the chain CNN, which has been broadcast several times this week for its importance.
The former president, who served in the White House for two terms, from 2009 to 2017, said he never thought that some of the “dark spirits” that began to emerge within the Republican party during his government would become so dark that they could control a new thought on the democratic ideal.
“We have to worry when one of our main political parties is willing to adopt a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years or a decade ago,” said Obama, for whom the “clearest” example of what Previous was the failed coup on January 6, as a result of which “large portions of an elected Congress agree with the falsehood that there were problems with the elections.”
The assault on the United States Capitol by Trump supporters came on the same day that 147 Republican congressmen voted not to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory in key states. The falsehood that the 2020 elections were stolen has been promoted by the former president himself, who has since applauded the unfounded Republican audits of the elections.
When asked about Republican leaders who briefly opposed Trump after the insurrection, Obama said: “And then all of a sudden everyone came back on the line. The reason for this is because the base believed it and the base believed it because not only the president had told them this, but the related media ”.
He added: “My hope is that the tide turns. But that requires each of us to understand that this experiment in democracy does not happen automatically. “
The conversation with CNN is the first in-depth interview since the publication of the first volume of his presidential memoirs, where he spoke at length about how his historic election in 2008 created a wave of bitter and divisive turmoil that fueled Republican obstructionism and ultimately changed the party to his version. current. Trump, Obama argues in the book, sums this up, because to “millions of Americans scared by a black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety.”
But Obama also looked beyond Trump in the memoirs, noting that the true rise of this type of republicanism began when Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama’s opponent in 2008, elected then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as her running mate.
“Through Palin, it seemed as if the dark spirits that had long lurked on the fringes of the modern Republican Party … were finding their way to center stage.”
In the interview, Obama praised some Republicans for protecting the presidential election, notably Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who he said was “very brave,” despite being “brutally attacked (by Republicans akin to Trump) for it. “
Raffensperger became the target of Republican ire after defending the election results in Georgia, which gave Biden the state. Trump has endorsed Raffensperger’s main rival, Rep. Jody Hice.
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But some of the former president’s most insightful comments came when asked about the root causes of deep divisions in the country, divisions Obama attributed, in part, to questions about sources of information and race.
“We occupy different worlds. And it becomes much more difficult for us to listen to each other, to see each other, ”he said. “What’s more, we have more economic stratification and segregation. Combine that with racial stratification and isolation from the media, so not only do we have (celebrated 1950s-70s journalist) Walter Cronkite delivering the news, but we have a thousand different places, ”Obama said. And as a result, “all of this has contributed to this feeling that we have nothing in common.”
Thus, the ex-president pointed out, the solution “is more face-to-face meetings where people listen to the struggles and stories of others.”
“The question now is how do we create those places, those meeting places for people to do that, because right now, we don’t have them and we are seeing the consequences of that,” he said.
In the end, he explained, it all boils down to a question of race and the division that has created this year 2021. “At the heart of some of these divisions is race, a dividing line that defined our rise in politics and politics. election as the first black president, “said Obama, who said that” it remains difficult for most white Americans to recognize that they can be proud of this country and its traditions and its history and our ancestors. “
They are “things that are happening,” he said.
“The vestiges of that endure and continue,” Obama said. And “the truth is that when I tried to tell that story, many times my political opponents deliberately not only covered it up but tried to exploit it for their own political gain.”