Former President of United States Barack Obama on Friday said President Donald Trump was “the symptom, not the cause” of division and polarisation in the country, reported CNN.
“You happen to be coming of age,” Obama told students at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. “It did not start with Donald Trump, he is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalising on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years.”
Obama raised concerns over Trump’s approach, referring to it indirectly as “this political darkness”, according to The Washington Post. He compared Trump to foreign demagogues who exploit “a politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment”, appeal to racial nationalism and then plunder their countries while promising to fight corruption.
“This is not normal,” Obama said during his hour-long address. “These are extraordinary times, and they are dangerous times. But here is the good news: In two months [midterm elections], we have the chance – not the certainty, but the chance – to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics.”
Ahead of the midterm elections in November, Obama urged young people to cast their votes, “because our democracy depends on it”.
“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 sympathisers,” Obama said in an apparent reference to Trump saying there were “fine people on both sides” after the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville.
Responding to Obama’s address, Trump said he had fallen asleep listening to it. “I’m sorry I watched it, but I fell asleep,” he said. “I found he’s very good. Very good for sleeping.”
At an event in North Dakota, Trump again brought up Obama’s address. “Isn’t this much more exciting than listening to President Obama speak?” he asked the crowd.