The 7 Things You Need to Know About Barack Obama’s Tough Love Speech
When Barack Obama took the stage in front of an audience of students at the University of Illinois on Friday, he was not there to mess around. He was there to both scold and provide hope, dad-style. Obama turned his visit into a "State of Our Democracy" review, and we are not getting an A-plus, you guys.
Here are the notable important things he said during the speech, including this helpful reminder about democracy: "This is not a rock concert. This is not Coachella. We don’t need a messiah." Preach.
He said Donald Trump's name for the first time since leaving office.
It's unclear how he's managed to get this far without saying it, but he has.
“It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,” Obama said, condemning what the sitting president has unleashed in politics. “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”
He called Trump out for not denouncing Nazis after Charlottesville.
"We're supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers," he said. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?"
He alluded to the New York Times anonymous op-ed from a member of Trump's team.
"The claim that everything will turn out okay because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the President's orders, that is not a check," Obama said. "I'm being serious here. That's not how our democracy's supposed to work. These people aren't elected. They're not accountable."
He had a bone to pick with Republicans, specifically.
"None of this is conservative. I don't mean to pretend I'm channeling Lincoln now, but that's not what he had in mind, I don't think when he formed the Republican Party. It sure isn't normal. It's radical. It's a vision that says our protection of our power is all that matters,” Obama said.
He later said that over the past 20 years, "division," "resentment," and "paranoia" have "found a home in the Republican Party."
He said that Trump isn't the biggest threat to Americans — it's indifference.
"Because in the end, the threat to our democracy doesn't just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in congress or the Koch brothers and their lobbyists or too much compromise from Democrats or Russian hacking," Obama said. "The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism. Cynicism led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on election day."
He encouraged people to stop waiting for a "savior" in politics and vote regardless.
“You cannot sit back and wait for a savior,” Obama said. “You can’t opt out because you don’t feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert. This is not Coachella. We don’t need a messiah. All we need are decent, honest, hard-working people who are accountable and who have America’s best interests at heart”.
He gave some parental words of wisdom.
"You can be the generation that at a critical moment stood up and reminded us just how precious this experiment in democracy really is, just how powerful it can be when we fight for it, when we believe in it," he said."
He ended the speech by saying he believed in them and promising he'll be "right there with you every step of the way."