Former US president Barack Obama on Saturday urged voters to mobilise and return control of Congress to Democrats as he denounced what he said was the “politics of fear” dividing the country.
Obama told a large and enthusiastic crowd in Anaheim, California — in the traditionally Republican stronghold of Orange County — that the nation was “in a challenging moment.”
Casting aside the traditional low profile of a former president, Obama returned to the campaign trail on Friday in Illinois in an effort to help Democrats running in the upcoming midterm elections.
In Anaheim on Saturday, he said voters needed to send a clear signal in November that they want to “reverse that cycle of anger and division” and “restore some sanity in our politics.”
Although Obama did not refer to the president by name, his intent was clear.
He said stakes were high not just for Democrats but for all Americans, as “people feel scared” about a litany of issues: a troubled health care system, the high costs of education, a warming climate and more.
“If we don’t step up, things can get worse,” he said. “Other voices (will) fill the void.” Obama, who is 57, said the greatest threat to US democracy comes not from any single individual, or even from any group of billionaires seeking to dominate the nation’s politics.
“It is apathy, it is indifference. It is us not doing what we’re supposed to do,” he said.
Obama’s speech was notably shorter and more restrained than the previous day’s often fiery remarks in Illinois, when he attacked Trump more frontally, breaking with the long American tradition of restraint by former presidents toward their successors.
Trump, asked about that speech during a trip to North Dakota, quipped that he had watched it but fallen asleep.