Former President Obama sees major risks to democracy developing in the world only a year after he left the White House.
The statesman appeared at the Economic Club of Chicago last night and evoked past precedents for concern, comparing the rise of Hitler in early 20th century Germany with the current global geopolitical climate, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. Obama explained that there is a great risk in becoming complacent.
“We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly,” he explained. He went on to explain how Germany in the 1930’s allowed Hitler to rise to power despite centuries of flourishing cultural and scientific achievements.
The democracy that Germans engaged in under the Weimar Republic wasn’t enough to prevent the rise of the genocidal dictator. Obama also took specific aim at the virulent nativism that is sprouting up in many countries.
“Sixty million people died. . . .So, you’ve got to pay attention. And vote,” he added.
The former president went on to defend the free press saying that while he may have had critiques of the media during his presidential tenure, he always understood and appreciated the role the Fifth Estate plays in safeguarding democracy.
While Obama refrained from pointing it out, it’s an understanding that Trump lacks. He treats the free press like his enemy, which makes sense given his penchant for lying and journalists’ determination to uncover the truth. It’s an unprecedented antagonism for a president, and it’s still unclear what kind of lasting damage it will do.
Throughout his speech, Obama tactfully avoided naming the current United States President by name, but the choice of language left no doubt as to who and what he was referring to. Trump’s rapid, ignorant nationalism has driven his bigoted followers to disgusting new lows, ranging from an uptick in hate crimes to endorsing a pedophile for Senate in Alabama.
Trump’s supporters are unhinged and untethered from reality. He operates as the head of a cult of personality, which is exactly the kind of conditions that make it ripe for authoritarians to seize power. Americans must remain vigilant, push back against this vile president and defend our Republic.