Barack Obama Returns to Politics

Meaghan Burke, Editor-in-Chief

Former President Barack Obama returned to politics in a speech made at the University of Illinois on September 7, 2018.

After he opened the speech with a U of I chant, students were enraptured as he joked about his lack of agricultural knowledge. It became clear that the former president had come to Illinois with one goal, and that was to persuade these students to go out and vote on November 6.

He begins the speech like any other, stating that this coming election is more important than any other in their lifetime, a common statement made by politicians. As time passes, his tone gets more urgent and more demanding.

As he starts to speak about the country’s progress, his target becomes clear. “Progress doesn’t just move in a straight line,” he states. He comments that with every two steps America takes, we take one step back. He does not just leave this up to implication as he asserts, “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.”

Obama labels Trump as “powerful and privileged,” and accuses him of holding us back.

Going even further, he directly calls out Republicans for saying current American economics are a “miracle”, and economic numbers are the same as when he was in office in 2015 and 2016.

Former President Obama attempts to get back on track by reassuring students that it is not a Republican vs Democratic situation. He knows that there are many conservatives who strive for the same goals of American prosperity. Obama believes that true Republicans and true Americans can see that there is an issue with our current government. He comments on the Congress, “It’s not conservative. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical.”

After he pleads his case, he cycles back to his original goal, stating that there is a “vacuum” in our democracy when people do not vote. “The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference.” Obama believes that the students’ vote has the power to make a difference and affect our democracy, and he claims that if these U of I students truly care about making America a better place, they shouldn’t just rant on Twitter or give up and “boo” when things go wrong, they should go out and vote.

“When you vote, 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 somebody’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.”

If students are eighteen or older, they must register before October 9, 2018 in order to vote in this November’s election. This will be a gubernatorial election so voters will be voting for the next PA Governor, along with Congress members. In order to register, students can go to and click on ‘Voter Registration’.

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