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Obama: 'You can give our democracy new meaning' by voting out Trump

Obama tore into Trump for attacking democracy at the Democratic National Convention, but said young people can still save it.

By Emily Singer - August 19, 2020
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Barack Obama, Joe Biden
File photo dated August 27, 2008 of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (R) joins his running mate, Vice President candidate Joe Biden on stage, following Biden's acceptance speech, during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO, USA. Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden, his two-term vice president, on Tuesday morning in the race for the White House. "Choosing Joe to be my vice president was one of the best decisions I ever made, and he became a close friend. And I believe Joe has all the qualities we need in a president right now," Obama said in a video posted to Twitter. Photo by Olivier Douliery/Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday gave his most pointed critique of Donald Trump, saying in a speech at the Democratic National Convention that Trump is a danger to the future of the country and encouraging Americans to cast a ballot for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Obama at one point became emotional as he described the injustices people of color, immigrants, and religious minorities in the United States had endured, saying, “If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. …And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.”

Democracy, he added, addressing young people directly, is worth saving. “You can take it to a better place,” he said, urging them to vote for Biden, his former vice president, in November.

From the third night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention:

Whatever our backgrounds, we’re all the children of Americans who fought the good fight.

 

Great grandparents working in firetraps and sweatshops without rights or representation. Farmers losing their dreams to dust. Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told to go back where they came from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect for the way they worshiped.

 

Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters. Beaten for trying to vote.

 

If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. Our ancestors. They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth.

 

And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.

 

I’ve seen that same spirit rising these past few years. Folks of every age and background who packed city centers and airports and rural roads so that families wouldn’t be separated. So that another classroom wouldn’t get shot up. So that our kids won’t grow up on an uninhabitable planet.

 

Americans of all races joining together to declare, in the face of injustice and brutality at the hands of the state, that Black Lives Matter, no more, but no less, so that no child in this country feels the continuing sting of racism.

 

To the young people who led us this summer, telling us we need to be better — in so many ways, you are this country’s dreams fulfilled. Earlier generations had to be persuaded that everyone has equal worth. For you, it’s a given — a conviction. And what I want you to know is that for all its messiness and frustrations, your system of self-government can be harnessed to help you realize those convictions.

 

You can give our democracy new meaning. You can take it to a better place. You’re the missing ingredient — the ones who will decide whether or not America becomes the country that fully lives up to its creed.

 

That work will continue long after this election. 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 to win.

 

So we have to get busy building it up — by pouring all our effort into these 76 days, and by voting like never before — for Joe and Kamala, and candidates up and down the ticket, so that we leave no doubt about what this country we love stands for — today and for all our days to come.

 

Stay safe. God bless.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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