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Obama's Prophetic Speech on Racism Back in 2008

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    The craziness defining the 2016 Primary season has had me thinking a lot about anger, racial identity, and white resentment and apparently I'm not alone. NPR Politics did a recent podcast discussing race and the 2016 election and one of the journalists brought up then Senator Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech where he discussed the racial tensions that are still persistent in this country and seemed to predict the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as a result of it.

    I encourage you to watch the entire speech, but here's one quote that stuck out to me:

    "In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time."

    If that doesn't explain the typical Trump supporter than I don't know what will.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Thanks Jared. I recall his speech, and how he used it at the time to address the Reverend Wright controversy. I understood at the time that speeches such as this one with a large personal component to them, are almost entirely written by himself. This was a speech he gave long before he was nominated so it has his characteristic style without a speech writer's editing.

    I think President Obama understands the American people and their diverse and often conflicting views on issues better than anyone. His frustration is dealing with an opposing party that doesn't put country first...that and the "low information voter". While we are on the topic, here's another notable quote from one of his other campaign speeches in April 2008:

    “You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    That phrase of clinging to guns and religion was used against him. But he is right on for a large segment of America.