Can we get this hashtag trending? I understand why our previous president would feel a personal investment in promoting his calm model of governance over his successor, since Trump’s victory represented an unexpectedly (to Obama) strong rejection of his incremental approach. In this latest speech, he says that “Americans are not seeking revolutionary change,” but in fact, that’s what they voted for in 2016, and they sure got it. Revolutionary correction, with equal and opposite fire, is what will be needed to change course in 2020; there’s no normal to go back to, and the, yes, Revolution that formed this country in the first place was meant to be an ongoing project.
Articles like this give me the nightmare of a 2020 convention where all the Dems’ past “stars,” like Obama and Hilary and Bill, are there to scold a liberal nominee in primetime and sabotage our own campaign. (They will not fall in line, because they feel too important on the sidelines; Obama himself was the president who accepted his Nobel Peace Prize with a speech about the perennial necessity of war.) Obama’s personal code of civility might preclude him from making the case against Trump specifically, but why are all of his comments reserved for admonishing the left?
In this newest speech he refers to those who want to “tear down” the system, though the most hard-left members of Congress, like AOC, clearly believe in improving the system by having joined it; it’s all of Trump’s appointees who are literally dismantling the machinery of democracy every day. In an earlier highly publicized speech (given in socialist Germany), he warned about the liberal wing of the Democratic party and its supporters being a “circular firing squad,” a strangely violent image for a generation which is especially committed to nonviolent change, even as vehicles are driven into crowds protesting racism and overzealous immigration enforcement.
But then, he spent much of another speech criticizing armchair “woke” culture — from an armchair — with an emphasis that seemed to me misplaced, given the unprecedented numbers and broad political base of citizenship and activism that this country has seen since Trump got elected; much of it from the same young generation Obama chose to caricature as holier-than-thou do-nothings. If Obama thinks that “the average American” — from those envisioning a climate catastrophe to those imagining a deep-state conspiracy; from those arming for a delusional race-war to those worried about whether their immigrant parent is going to come home tonight — prefers caution to boldness, then he’s the one who is out of touch. No true progressive wants to burn anything down. It’s already burning, and it’s far past time to yell fire. #OkayBama
Photo: Michael Sohn/AP