After taking a few indirect swipes at his successor since leaving office last year, Barack Obama mentioned President Donald Trump by name for the first time in public at an event in Illinois on Friday.
According to The Hill, his address took place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and focused on the deep division within American politics and society.
He said some of the tension is being caused by frustrated Americans who are “genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change,” but attributed a more sinister motive to much of the rest of the nation’s socioeconomic tension and resentment.
“More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical,” he said. “Because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege.”
He told the students gathered for the address that they “happen to be coming of an age during one of those moments.”
Obama mentions Trump by name!
"He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that's rooted in our past but it's also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes." pic.twitter.com/fmoaPfCiHu
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2018
In a remark that drew applause from the audience, Obama said that the current administration is “a symptom, not the cause” of that division.
“It did not start with Donald Trump,” he said.
With the radical changes in technology, culture and elsewhere in recent years, Obama said Trump has been able to use the tactics he described in more effective ways.
“He’s just capitalizing on resentments politicians have been fanning for years,” Obama said. “A fear, an anger that’s rooted in our past, but it’s also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
He went on to describe some of the changes he believes many Americans have found loath to accept.
“Think about it,” he said. “You’ve come of age in a smaller, more connected world where demographic shifts and the winds of change have scrambled not only traditional economic arrangements, but our social arrangements and our religious commitments and our civic institutions. Most of you don’t remember a time before 9/11 when you didn’t have to take off your shoes at an airport.”
As The Hill reported, Obama’s address Friday was expected to launch a series of campaign stops during which he will rally for Democrat candidates and policies.
“He will make a pointed case in his speech on Friday, and on the trail this fall, that this moment in our country is too perilous for Democratic voters to sit out,” said Obama spokesperson Katie Hill.
She added that the former president will build on previous concerns he has raised since Trump’s inauguration.
“He will echo his call to reject the rising strain of authoritarian politics and policies,” Hill said. (For more from the author of “Obama Takes Direct Shot at Trump, Calls Him out by Name Publicly for First Time Since Leaving Office” please click HERE)