Echoing some of what he wrote in his latest memoir, “A Promised Land,” the former President argued that the only way the country’s political institutions will work is if both parties agree to certain rules and key principles.
“I saw some of these trends happening during my presidency,” Obama told moderator Lonnie Bunch, former secretary of the Smithsonian, as part of the closing session of the American Library Association annual conference.
“But to see not only a riot in the Capitol around what historically had been a routine process of certifying an election, but to know that one of our two major political parties, a strong majority of people in this party, actually believed in a falsehood about those election results, the degree to which misinformation is now disseminated at warp speed in coordinated ways that we haven’t seen before, and that the guardrails I thought were in place around many of our democratic institutions really depend on the two parties agreeing to those ground rules and that one of them right now doesn’t seem as committed to them as in previous generations, that worries me,” Obama said. “And I think we should all be worried.”
In his Tuesday appearance, Obama said that Trump “surfed” much of the anti-Obama sentiment during his own eight years in the White House.
“One of the perpetrators of that, not the originator of it, but somebody who surfed that for their own advantage was my successor, Donald Trump,” he said. “And we saw how powerful the constellation of conservative media outlets, talk radio, and then, ultimately, all this gets turbo charged with social media, how powerful that is.”
“I think a central question … how do we get back to a place where all of us, as citizens, at least agree on certain baseline facts and certain core principles around how elections work?” Obama said. “There are certain things like that, that right now, are frayed.”