President Barack Obama today expressed his dismay on developments in the US presidential election campaign in particular the “divisive and often vulgar rhetoric” coming from some of the candidates who are aspiring to replace him in the White House next year.
“As I’ve said in recent weeks, I know I’m not the only one who may be more than a little dismayed about what’s happening on the campaign trail right now. The divisive and often vulgar rhetoric that’s aimed at everybody, but often is focused on the vulnerable or women or minorities,” Obama said in his remarks at the 2016 Toner Prize ceremony.
“The sometimes well-intentioned but I think misguided attempts to shut down that speech. The violent reaction that we see, as well as the deafening silence from too many of our leaders in the coarsening of the debate,” he said expressing his dismay at the developments on the campaign trail.
“The sense that facts don’t matter, that they’re not relevant. That what matters is how much attention you can generate. A sense that this is a game as opposed to the most precious gift our founders gave us - this collective enterprise of self-government,” Obama rued.
“So it’s worth asking ourselves what each of us - as politicians or journalists, but most of all, as citizens - may have done to contribute to this atmosphere in our politics. I was going to call it a ‘carnival atmosphere’ but that implies fun. Some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, but all of us are responsible for reversing it.
“I say this not because of some vague notion of ‘political correctness’ which seems to be increasingly an excuse to just say offensive things or lie out loud. I say this not out of nostalgia, because politics in America has always been tough,” he said.
“I say this because what we’re seeing right now does corrode our democracy and our society. And I’m not one who’s faint of heart. I come from Chicago. Harold Washington once explained that “politics ain’t beanbag. It’s always been rough and tumble,” he said.
“But when our elected officials and our political campaign become entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn’t matter what’s true and what’s not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations,” he said.
He said the number one question he is being asked as he travels around the world is the state of US politics.
“It is not because around the world people have not seen crazy politics; it is that they understand America is the place where you can’t afford completely crazy politics.
“For some countries where this kind of rhetoric may not have the same ramifications, people expect, they understand, they care about America, the most powerful nation on Earth, functioning effectively, and its government being able to make sound decisions,” he said.