Featured Image Credit: URBANA, IL – SEPTEMBER 07: Former President Barack Obama speaks to students at the University of Illinois where he accepted the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government on September 7, 2018 in Urbana, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
“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.” – Barack Obama, 44th U.S. President
Barack Obama is done hiding in the shadows and giving the spotlight to Trump. Today he took back the mic, and he didn’t mince words.
During a speech at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the former president called upon students to come together to vote and fight for democracy, emphasizing the country was at a pivotal moment.
“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,” he said to the crowd after describing this November’s elections as more important than any he could remember in his lifetime.
Obama, for the most part, steered clear of mentioning Trump by name, but subtle slams woven into the intricate address made it clear he condemned the sitting commander-in-chief’s behavior, and the actions of his administration as a whole.
Among many other things, he blatantly called out the Republican party for politicizing the FBI, actively blocking legislation to keep voting systems secure, cozying up to Russia, undermining alliances, supporting massive regulatory rollbacks, the Paris climate accord withdrawal, implementing tax cuts for the wealthy and allowing dishonest lenders to take advantage of veterans, consumers and students.
While on stage, Obama also focused on the importance of taking a point-blank stand against racism, an apparent hit at Trump’s reluctance to criticize white nationalists after violence at a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.
“We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers.” Obama said. “How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.”
He ended his speech on a positive note, making an effort to instill hope in the next generation.
His closing remark read: “I believe in you. I believe you will help lead us in the right direction, and I will be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you Illinois. God bless you. God bless America.”
Host Ethan Bearman dedicated a segment to diving into the speech, particularly how it differed from Trump’s latest speaking engagement — listen below!