There he was, just like in his old glory days, up on a stage reading the teleprompter for a television audience, with stirring baritone voice and preacher-like cadence, lifting his chin every few seconds and looking off to some horizon, as if he could see something we couldn’t, inspiring a new young rapturous audience of 1,200 Millennials who didn’t remember what he was like as a president, updating them on the “State of Democracy.”
We all knew it was just a matter of time, because Barack never really left. His adoring media had kept him and Michelle alive and active on our television screens and on internet news feeds, as they went to concerts and Broadway shows, informing us of Barack’s summer reading list – which he said included “new novels, revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth.”
CNN, the network Barack created before he left office, never missed an opportunity to use his name or chin-lifted image as a counterpoint to a scowling Donald as they continue their unbridled assault to remove the new interloper president with the blond hair.
Because while Barack’s speech at the University of Illinois in Champaign was billed as a an update on the “State of Our Democracy” by a former president to our developing youth, Barack and his handlers really wanted the speech to be like Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, warning the West of the Soviet communist threat after World War II. This time, the warning was not about Stalin, but Trump, no less a danger to democracy.
Barack said he had wanted to drift into anonymity after retirement from the Oval Office, and “follow a wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage and making room for new voices and new ideas.” But this time the moment was to important, the danger was too great, to sit back and just play golf like the others.
“I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who it is we are. Just what it is we stand for. And as a fellow citizen – not an ex-president, but as a fellow citizen – I’m here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.”
The speech was pure Saul Alinsky, Barack’s mentor and idol and person he has based his political career on – though he has never said publicly – who wrote the book “Rules for Radicals,” and preached “The despair is there; now it’s up to us to go in and rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change.”
Trump would be that Despair he would rub raw this day for these young, idealistic minds though, as Barack said: “Trump is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentments that the politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that’s rooted in our past but also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
And, this being election season, those politicians would be Republicans. They were the party started by Lincoln, but who had lost their way, and become the status quo who are living rich and comfortable, but who have left out so many from that prosperity.
“So you have come of age during a time of growing inequality, a fracturing of economic opportunity. And that growing economic divide compounded other divisions in our country. Regional, religious, cultural…And then the reckless behavior of financial elites triggered a massive financial crisis.”
Barack tried to keep the ship righted during his eight years bringing more people into sharing in the prosperity and equality, including people of color, LGBTQs, then Trump came along and torpedoed the ship, “cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans, unwinding regulations and weakening worker protections, shrinking the safety net. So you have come of age at a time of growing inequality, a fracturing of economic opportunity.”
Now, after painting his Alinsky portrait of discontent, of pain and suffering caused by Trump, Barack told them of something positive they could to – as Saul taught – step up for radical social change, to help undo the human misery the Republicans have inflicted on the world – go out and vote Democratic, to help reinstate all the good things Barack had begun and Trump was unraveling.
So get out and vote! If you vote, and get the Democrats back in power, they will help protect women in the workplace with more regulations and prevent discrimination in hiring and in getting paid the same as men. When you vote democratic, “you’ve got the power to make it easier to afford college and harder to shoot up a school. When you vote, you’ve got the power to make sure a family keeps its health insurance. You could save someone’s life!
“When you vote, you’ve got the power to make sure white nationalists don’t feel emboldened to March with their hoods off or their hoods on in Charlottesville in the middle of the day. 30 minutes. 30 minutes of your time. Is democracy worth that?”
“When you vote, something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope Happens.” Barack said, his voice reaching preacher crescendo. “With each new law that helps a kid read or helps a homeless family find a shelter or helps a veteran get the support he or she has earned, each time that happens hope happens.”
Gosh, a government of Democrats can do all that for us, just by voting? They can erase all the injustice in the world, pay for college, get healthcare for everyone, stop bigotry and unfairness, just by enacting more laws and regulations and keeping track of everyone?
All that for just voting Democrat, huh? Will they pass a law that will do my homework for me, too?