Barack Obama Decries Trump’s “Strongman Politics” in Mandela-Inspired Speech
In his speech Tuesday, Former President Barack Obama warned the public to beware the rise of “strongman politics” and critiqued the actions of President Donald Trump, without once mentioning his name.
Obama delivered his highly anticipated speech at an event in South Africa celebrating the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s birth. In order to understand the current “strange and uncertain times,” marked by “head-spinning and disturbing headlines,” the former president attempted to retrace history’s steps, weaving in the ideals of Mandela along the way.
Obama also pointed out the dangerous rise in “a politics of fear and resentment” that utilize xenophobia as a scapegoat for staggering economic inequality. “In the West, you’ve got far-right parties that oftentimes are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism,” remarked Obama, in a possible nod to President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy as well as his travel ban, which targeted predominantly Muslim countries.
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The former president then targeted Trump’s long list of past falsehoods and exaggerations, claiming he was shocked at the “utter loss of shame among political leaders,” who no longer even seemed to care if they were caught in a lie.
“We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders, where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more,” he said. “Look, let me say: Politicians have always lied, but it used to be that if you caught them lying, they’d be like, ‘Ah, man.’ Now they just keep on lying.”
According to a report by the New York Times, Trump told nearly six times as many falsehoods in his first 10 months of presidency than Obama did during his entire eight years.
The former president also alerted audiences that “The free press is under attack” and “state control of media is on the rise,” in reference to Trump’s numerous attempts to undermine reputable news outlets he finds unfavorable by denouncing them as “Fake News.”
Throughout the speech, Obama urged audiences to follow in the footsteps of Mandela and hold fast to their ideals rather than giving in to “strongman politics.”
“We now stand at a crossroads,” declared Obama. “A moment in time in which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and minds of citizens around the world. Two different stories, two different narratives, about who we are and who we should be.”
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