President Barack Obama stepped back into the political arena on Friday, Sept. 7, delivering a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but it's probably not in the way that you think. Barack Obama's Illinois speech slammed President Donald Trump and it's seriously brutal AF. Try not to cringe while reading... Strong emphasis on "try."
During his address, Obama specifically called out Trump by name — something he generally hasn't done in his post-presidential speeches. At one point in the address, Obama told the audience that the political and racial upheaval currently going on in the United States "did not start with Donald Trump." Instead, he said the president is a "symptom" of the problem, "not the cause." Obama added, according to The Hill: "He's just capitalizing on resentments politicians have been fanning for years. A fear and anger that's rooted in our past, but is also born of the upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes."
He didn't stop there, though. Just peep all the excerpts from Obama's speech that people are posting on Twitter.
Business Insider reporter John Haltiwanger tweeted a comment by Obama, in which the former president shaded Trump's response to the Charlottesville protests. If you need a reminder, the clash was between white supremacists and counter-protesters over the removal of a Confederate statue. Although the event resulted in the death of one woman and the injuries of several others, Trump later failed to denounce the white supremacists, infamously saying that they were "very fine people" instead.
Obama went on to further throw jabs at Trump, saying that "we're supposed to stand up to bullies, not follow them" — especially "Nazi sympathizers."
Obama wrapped up his address by urging the crowd to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, because "our democracy depends on it."
The speech is arguably one of Obama's most monumental moments since reentering the political arena, and comes ahead of his first campaign events of the midterms, per CNN. Obama revealed his first round of endorsements for the elections on Aug. 1, which (surprise) include a bunch of anti-Trump politicians. In his announcement, Obama expressed his belief that the candidates are as "diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they're running to represent." He also said he was confident that they would strengthen the United States by "restoring opportunity, repairing our alliances and standing in the world."
Obama also urged the public to get to the polls back in June in efforts to stop the alleged crisis Trump poses to America. During a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser, Obama suggested voters not wait for an inspiring figure to motivate them to vote in the midterms. He explained:
Do not wait for the perfect message. Don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote,’ Because that’s part of what happened in the last election. I heard that too much.
He later added, "Boil it down, If we don’t vote, then this democracy doesn’t work," echoing comments in made during the Illinois speech: in the Sept. remarks, he reminded the audience that politics isn't something you can sit out. "You can’t opt out because you don’t feel particularly inspired by this or that candidate," he said. "This is not a rock concert. This isn’t Coachella.”
With the midterms around the corner (November), it can never hurt to take his comments into consideration. Until then, you might not want to expect Obama to let up on his criticism of Trump either.