Obama Appeals To Young Americans To ‘Give Our Democracy Meaning’ In ‘Dark Times’

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August 19, 2020 11:24 p.m.

Painting the current President as a failure and a cynic, former President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Americans to vote in November rather than sitting out of electoral politics.

Speaking on the third night of the Democratic National Convention from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Obama focused much of his remarks on the Black Lives Matter movement, casting it as an heir to the Civil Rights Movement and other protest efforts throughout history.

“For all its messiness and frustrations, your system of self-government can be harnessed to help you realize those convictions for all of us,” he said, calling young racial justice activists “in so many ways, this country’s dreams fulfilled.”

“You can give our democracy meaning,” he said, adding: “But any chance of success depends entirely on the outcome of this election. This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes for them to win.”

In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, former U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the virtual convention on August 19, 2020. (Photo by DNCC via Getty Images)

Obama celebrated his former vice president Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, saying that in contrast to President Donald Trump, “they actually care about every American” and America’s democracy.

That was one of a number of jabs against Trump in the 20-minute remarks: The former president first recalled how he’d hoped “for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously — that he might come to feel the weight of the office, and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.”

“He never did,” Obama said.

Later, referencing various ideals — rule of law, a free press, “a fidelity to facts and science” in the face of a pandemic — Obama said “these are American principles” rather than partisan ones.

“But,” he said, “at this moment, this President and those who enable him have shown they don’t believe in these things.”

“Tonight I’m asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times,” he continued, before slipping in the Biden campaign them. “And build it back better.”

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