During a fiery speech delivered this Friday, former President Barack Obama tore into Donald Trump and his administration, slamming the current White House culture that can’t even give a definitive statement on the unique detestability of Nazis.
Speaking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Obama honed in on one of the most defining moments of Trump’s presidency — his refusal to outright condemn his white supremacist supporters and played the equivalency game when in came to Nazis and counter protesters in Charlottesville last year.
Many see the speech as a preview for the rhetoric Obama plans to roll out to boost voter turnout for the midterm elections this year. A question Obama posed and will likely pose in future speeches is, “What happened to the Republican party?”
According to Obama, the country is currently experiencing a “backlash to progress.” something he says is a phenomenon that happens periodically throughout history.
“You happen to be coming of age during one of those moments,” Obama said. “It did not start with Donald Trump, he is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have 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 then turned to Trump’s public statements in the wake of white supremacist rallies in places like Charlottesville.
“We are Americans. We’re supposed to stand up to bullies, not follow them,” Obama said.
“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 continued.
“How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.”
Regarding the op-ed published in The New York Times by an anonymous “high-level” White House official, Obama didn’t see it as a comforting sign that adults are looking out for the nation while embedded in the Trump White House.
“And by the way the idea that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren’t following the President’s orders,” he said. “That is not a check. I am being serious here. That is not how our democracy is supposed to work.”
Obama then leveled criticism at the GOP as a whole, saying “the politics of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party,” adding that as a result, “the stakes are even higher” for the coming midterms.
“The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire,” Obama said.
Watch the full speech below:
Featured image via screen grab