Obama breaks the silence


Former President Barack Obama recently broke the long held tradition of refraining from criticizing a sitting president. Based on the threat that Donald Trump poses to our democracy, President Obama is morally obligated to speak out to denounce the bigotry and corruption of this administration, and I think he should be applauded for doing so. Since the election, Obama has abstained from criticizing Trump despite Trump’s attacks on the Obama presidency.

While Obama may have broken tradition, his act of speaking out against injustice is quite patriotic. As someone who spent eight years leading this nation, he is, in fact, obligated to vocally defend our democracy and try to persuade others to support the principles and institutions on which our democracy was founded.

There is no doubt that ever since the 2016 election the nation has become more and more divided. This is partly the fault of Trump and his tactics of creating an environment of fear, hostility, and intolerance toward his opponents as a means to gain power.  

Early on, Trump recognized that appealing to those Americans who felt left behind economically and threatened by the changing demographics of our country gained him supporters. More moderate Republican voters were willing to ignore the aspects of Trump they found distasteful in order to make progress on conservative principles they cared about, such as tax reform.

However, Trump’s unpresidential behavior and immorality have compromised the office of President.  He does not hesitate to make malicious comments, make fun of, and threaten violence against those who disagree with him.

He has attacked war heroes, women, the free press, our security agencies, Muslims, immigrants and anyone who challenges him. Trump emboldens white supremacists to have rallies like the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, N.C. where an innocent protester was murdered.

His refusal to denounce neo-Nazis has encouraged bigotry and violence. Trump uses hatred to gain supporters and to incite fear in anyone who challenges sexist and racist views.

Former President Obama, the first black president in the history of our country, exhibited qualities that stand in stark contrast to those of Trump.  Regardless of whether or not you agreed with his politics, there is no question that Obama’s administration was not as dysfunctional as the Trump administration and never promoted hatred and fear.  

Former President Obama was a symbol of hope for many ,and his morality was admirable.

While his silence on Trump’s administration was respectable and, in a way, impressive due to all of the racist comments Trump has made, it was time to end the silence.

Obama is a leader who is looked up to by many, and as the former president he has such a huge platform not only in the nation, but also around the world. His words are incredibly impactful.

Following a tradition of respectful silence is appropriate when the issues are related to policy – but not when they are related to fundamental human rights and respect for others.

Obama had every right to call out Trump by name and disapprove of his tactics because Trump’s actions will have long-lasting consequences on the nation and its democratic institutions.

Many of Trump’s inner circle have now pled guilty to crimes; Trump’s possible collusion with Russia and tolerance of their meddling in our election is potentially treasonous; Trump’s attacks on women, minorities, the environment, free trade, the poor and the press will possibly do irreparable harm to our country.   

Politicians who encourage corruption, ignorance and dishonesty are dangerous to America.

It is crucial to have as many reliable and respected people as possible do their duty and speak out.

This is exactly why it was absolutely necessary for Obama to break his silence. He understands that it is crucial to elect new leaders who will protect our democracy from racists, corrupt leaders and those who are willing to compromise basic values to further their political agendas and their own ambitions.  

To be silent now is to be complicit and if I were former President Obama, I too would have chosen justice over tradition and action over silence.