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Obama Is Wrong in Criticizing Trump

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To not criticize one’s successor has been the unwritten rule that all American presidents abide by. Almost all of them after leaving office bid adieu to active politics, a practice that is not an act of courtesy, rather an acknowledgment of the trials and tribulations that come along with being the president of the only post-cold-war superpower in the world.

When Barack Obama assumed office as the 44th President of the United States in 2009, the outgoing president George W. Bush wished him good luck and for the next eight years that Obama governed he evaded any political limelight; never questioning or criticizing his policies.

It seems Obama has forgotten this gesture of Bush. After a short 18-month hiatus, Obama has emerged to vilify his democratically elected successor Donald Trump, launching a no holds barred assault on the president, warning Americans that he rose to power by “tapping into America’s dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division” and asking Americans not to vote for him the second time as he is a “threat to our democracy.”

It also seems that Obama has forgotten his time in the office when even after belittling his predecessor George W. Bush and even reversing many of his policies, all he got to hear from Bush was his dignified silence and well-wishes. “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president,” Bush said diplomatically. “I think it’s bad for the presidency, for that matter.” Bush had clearly laid down the rules with which he will conduct himself from the very beginning of his post-presidential life. While addressing a group of business leaders in Calgary in his first speech as a former president he said, “I want the president to succeed, I love my country more than politics. He deserves my silence.”

Obama’s diatribe berated not just Trump but all Republicans when he proclaimed that Republicans are “subsidizing corporate polluters,” “weakening worker protections,” “shrinking the safety net,” and “attack(ing) voting rights.” “The politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party,” he declared.

Right to freedom of expression is a constitutional right, but when you have previously been a president, uttering your personal views from a podium can influence the views of many other. If Obama thinks that Americans are not wise enough to decide based on the circumstances around them, then he is making a foolish mistake. After all, it is the same country that gave him and his party eight years to head the government. Had they viewed his performance as satisfactory and felt that his policies have moved any inch closer to include the least-privileged into the mainstream, they would have certainly voted his party back to power again. But that did not happen. The mandate was clear.

Obama’s charge that racist people voted to put Trump in the White House is an insult to the millions of decent, patriotic Americans who voted.  The American National Election Studies (ANES) survey found that 13 percent of voters who voted in favor of Trump in 2016 backed Obama in 2012. An analysis after the 2016 election found that, of the nearly 700 counties that twice voted for Obama, one-third voted for Trump.

If all of Trump’s voters were driven by racism, as Obama declares, then why did so many of them vote for him in the past is a question that Obama should ask himself. Was he also a torchbearer of racism while seeking votes?

These voters were not racists or fascists or bigots as Democrats would now like us to believe. They were largely working-class voters, from all races, holding diverse political and religious views, but who were all united in their struggle due to Obama’s policies that led to the closure of factories, jobs losses, and in the increase in the cost of education and healthcare.

‘Yes we can’, the chant of Obama’s election campaign might have brought to them the hope for a change, a change that would better their lives. And the voters bought into these promises. They elected Obama twice so as to enable him to fulfill the dreams that he had made them believe in. At the end of his eight years, they were all disappointed. Gravely disappointed. Their lives were so ruined that in their desperation they decided to give Trump a chance.

Trump who they viewed as a political outsider promised them exactly what they wanted. Also, he was pitted against Hillary Clinton, a confidante of the failed president Obama. Obama’s support for Hillary may also have been among the prime reason why the voters detested her.

The voters well knew that it was a risky bet. They well knew that Trump, if elected, will have to face opposition from both the deep state and the Democrat loyalists. But given the deep abyss they were in, they were left with no other choice, they were more than happy and willing to make the bet.

After being kept waiting for 8 long years by Obama, now with Trump calling the shots, their bet has finally paid off. Under Trump, the lives of many of the forgotten Americans, irrespective of whether they voted for him or not, is finally improving. And so is the economy. Wages are rising at a pace unheard of in the past nine years and job layoffs are at a half-century low. Since Trump took office, the number of Americans who could not find a full-time job and were thereby forced to work part-time has dropped by nearly 700,000. There are more full-time job opportunities today than it was during Obama’s rule. The number of Americans working full-time jobs has gone up by 3 million.

Facts don’t lie. So, when faced with these facts what has Obama’s reaction been? Obama said, “When you hear how great the economy is doing right now let’s just remember when this recovery started.” And there’s the catch, when people decided to oust the rule of the Democrats, half of Obama-Trump voters said their incomes were falling behind the cost of living, while another 31 percent said their incomes were merely keeping pace. So, it is for Obama to rethink what he is saying and not propagate lies in order to try to swing the voters in favor of Democrats.

Now that the lives of the average Americans are improving, the chances of seeing Trump winning a second presidential term is also improving. Maybe that is what is upsetting the Democrats and Obama.

Democrats have always liked to take moral high ground and to talk about the how Trump is rupturing the established presidential norms by his un-conventional approach towards governance (even though the approach is proving to be effective). Yet at this hour when the Democrats see the vote bank slipping from their grip yet another time, it is they and Obama who are breaking the presidential norms with their self-serving foray into partisan demagoguery.

Author: Pradeep Banerjee