August 20, 2020 5:36:43 pm
Sikhs, Muslims and other communities for generations have been made to “feel suspect” for the way they worshipped, former US President Barack Obama has said, as he urged Americans to vote to oust “this president and those in power”, who benefit from keeping things the way they are.
Delivering a blistering attack on President Donald Trump, Obama said the American public should not let him and his administration “take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy”.
“What we do echoes through the generations. Whatever our backgrounds, we’re all the children of Americans who fought the good fight. Great grandparents working in firetraps and sweatshops without rights or representation,” Obama said in his remarks to the 2020 Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.
“..Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told to go back where they came from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect for the way they worshipped. Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters. Beaten for trying to vote”, Obama said.
Obama said for long, Americans from these communities were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives.
“They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth. And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life”, he said.
Obama said “this president and those in power”, who benefit from keeping things the way they are, are “counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.”
“That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers until it’s no democracy at all.”
Urging Americans to vote in the November elections, Obama said, “Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too. Do what Americans have done for over two centuries when faced with even tougher times than this, all those quiet heroes who found the courage to keep marching, keep pushing in the face of hardship and injustice.”
Telling the American public that they can give the nation’s democracy a “new meaning” and take it to a better place, Obama said the Trump administration “has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.”
“So we have to get busy building it up, by pouring all our effort into these 76 days, and by voting like never before, for Joe and Kamala, and candidates up and down the ticket, so that we leave no doubt about what this country we love stands for, today and for all our days to come.”
Obama underlined that the one Constitutional office elected by all of the people is the presidency and so the nation should expect a president to feel a sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of all 330 million of us, “regardless of what we look like, how we worship, who we love, how much money we have, or who we voted for.”
He said both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand that in this democracy, the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t use the men and women of the US military, who are willing to risk everything to protect the nation, as “political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil.”
“They understand that political opponents aren’t ‘un-American’ just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn’t the ‘enemy’ but the way we hold officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depends on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up.”
“None of this should be controversial. These shouldn’t be Republican principles or Democratic principles. They’re American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who enable him, have shown they don’t believe in these things.”
Obama said he is asking all Americans to believe in Biden and Harris’ ability to lead America out of these dark times and build it back better. He emphasized that no single American can fix the country alone.
“Not even a president. Democracy was never meant to be transactional – you give me your vote; I make everything better. It requires an active and informed citizenry. So I am also asking you to believe in your own ability ‘to embrace your own responsibility as citizens’ to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure. Because that’s what at stake right now. Our democracy”, he said.
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