Generally, former presidents keep a low profile after leaving office. Most presidents have waited at least a term before getting directly involved in politics while many leave public politics behind all together. Today, former President Barack Obama signaled that he’s stepping back into the fray by directly rebuking sitting President Donald Trump.
While delivering a speech at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Obama called out President Trump by name for the first time. The speech appears to have largely been a defense of his own legacy. The theme of Obama’s message was that progress always creates a backlash to progress. According to Obama, his administration moved the chains of progress forward, and President Trump represents the backlash against that progress. Speaking to college students, Obama called Trump out, stating: “You happen to be coming of age during one of those moments [backlash against progress]. It did not start with Donald Trump, he is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years. A fear, an anger that is rooted in our past but is also borne in our enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
Obama’s remarks come as the midterm election enters full swing. President Trump will likely be on the road in the weeks ahead, trying to fend off a Democratic takeover of the House and possibly even the Senate. Midterms are often low turnout affairs, and the political party that drives the most voters to the polls usually wins. However, this midterm season is expected to see historically high turnouts among both Democratic and Republican voters. President Trump has warned his supporters that if they don’t turn up to the voting booth, he could be impeached.
Remarking the upcoming primary season, Obama also urged students to turn out, arguing: “Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different, the stakes really are higher, the consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”