Former President Barack Obama delivered a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , where he slammed Republicans and President Donald Trump.
Obama said that Trump is “capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years” and questioned “What happened to the Republican Party?” a preview of Obama’s message for the fall’s midterms and his most pointed rebuke to date of his successor in the White House.
Obama stepped back into the political fray Friday, delivering a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. One theme of Obama’s speech is how the history of the United States has always been progress and “backlash to progress,” and the former President argued the country is currently in one of those backlash moments.
“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 also said standing up to discrimination should be a bipartisan effort, adding “How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?”
“It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t target groups of people because of what they look like or how they pray,” Obama said. “We are supposed to stand up to discrimination and we are sure as heck to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers.”
In his remarks, Obama highlighted the anonymous op-ed in The New York Times this week, published by a Senior Administration Official.
“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 also spent a sizable portion of his remarks criticizing Republicans in Congress, saying “the politics of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party” over the last few decades and argued that the policies GOP leaders are pursuing aren’t conservative.
He acknowledged that politicians — including himself — had said similar messages about the importance of upcoming elections, but he added, “just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different, the stakes really are higher, the consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”