It’s been about a year since Barack Obama officially left office at this point, leaving the nation to struggle under the weight of Donald Trump’s presidency. Obama was, at the end of his time in office, monumentally more popular than Trump can no doubt hope to ever be; Obama’s end-of-term approval rating was nearly 20 percent higher than Trump’s current dismal approval rating.
Obama remains popular enough to be grouped among people like Jay-Z and George Clooney in the slate of guests set to appear on the first season of famous talk show host David Letterman’s new show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.
The show debuted last Friday on Netflix with Obama as the first guest to make an appearance.
During the course of Obama and Letterman’s conversation, which was at once both more casual and more heartfelt than the kind of content found on network television, the two men discussed such topics as retiring from a position in the public eye, as Obama of course did in the case of leaving the presidency and as Letterman did when he left his show in 2015, after decades on the job.
Obama actually made an appearance on Letterman’s final show, besides having been interviewed by Letterman in the past.
Besides more personal topics, however — including Obama joking about how much his daughters dislike his “dad” dance moves — Letterman and Obama also discussed pressing political and social issues.
Letterman pressed Obama on the present state of American political life, and the former president was frank in his assessment in what’s going on. Quite simply, the two sides of America’s major party political scene are drifting farther and farther apart as time goes on, prompting an extreme distance in between the two.
As Obama put it:
‘One of the most damaging things to our democracy [is that] we don’t have a common baseline of facts. We are operating in different information universes … If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than if you listen to NPR.’
These comments serve as a sort of de facto explanation for why the present administration’s insistence on dismissing the media as “fake news” has taken off — even if not with the general population — with the president’s base. In their universe, the mainstream media really is the “enemy,” with them coming to that conclusion after being fed the slanted, at best, reporting of Fox News.
The current president, of course, has been relentless in feeding more of the same dogma to his followers that living in a “different universe” made them ready for, dividing America even more in the process.
Letterman and Obama also discussed the landmark 1965 march across the Selma bridge to demand equal voting rights, an issue that, concurrent to the rise of Donald Trump, remains pressing. There are some analysts who point out that restrictive voting laws may have kept enough Democratic voters away from the polls to hand Trump the presidency.
Obama summed up his take on the situation by saying:
‘We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting… People opt out themselves because they just don’t think anything can happen…. The lesson to draw from Selma has less to do with the particulars of the laws that were changed or were not changed. It has more to do with the spirit that said, “OK, I’m a Pullman porter, I’m a maid, but if enough maids and Pullman porters walk, and pray, and sing and show this injustice, we can awaken the consciousness of the nation.”‘
It remains to be seen whether or not someone who adheres to Obama’s ideals can successfully take down Donald Trump come the 2020 presidential election, although it certainly seems likely.
Before the next presidential election, we will have this year’s midterms, and Democrats certainly seem poised for a strong showing in those elections.
Featured Image via Screenshot from the Video