In his upcoming book, A Promised Land, due for release on November 17, 2020, President Barack Obama writes of his concerns about the current state of the democratic system in the United States, wondering if it can survive and live up to its ideals in these troubled times. Although, in the excerpt released on Thursday, he never blamed any one person or party for the divide that threatens our democracy, but the specter of Donald Trump and his complicit GOP cronies looms large over Obama’s words.
More than anyone else, I wrote my book for young people—as an invitation to once again remake the world, and to bring about, through hard work, determination, and a big dose of imagination, an America that finally aligns with all that is best in us. https://t.co/1yZrYWuckX
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 12, 2020
The 44th president summed up the unprecedented times in which the country finds itself at the end of Trump’s presidency, with a global pandemic that has killed 250,000 Americans rising in severity, civil unrest over racial divides at a high, and with a nearly seven percent unemployment rate.
In the excerpt, Obama writes:
‘Beyond the struggle to put words on a page, what I didn’t fully anticipate was the way events would unfold during the more than three and a half years that have passed since that last flight on Air Force One. The country is in the grips of a global pandemic and an accompanying economic crisis, with more than 230,000 Americans dead, businesses shuttered, and millions of people out of work. Across the nation, people from all walks of life have poured into the streets to protest the deaths of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of the police. Perhaps most troubling of all, our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis—a crisis rooted in a fundamental contest between two opposing visions of what America is and what it should be; a crisis that has left the body politic divided, angry, and mistrustful, and has allowed for an ongoing breach of institutional norms, procedural safeguards, and the adherence to basic facts that both Republicans and Democrats once took for granted.’
Barack Obama tells Scott Pelley Republicans who “go along with” the President’s claims of election fraud put democracy on “a dangerous path.”
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) November 12, 2020
Discussing the political divide and the fragile state of American democracy, Obama said he had not lost hope. While he acknowledges that he was not a perfect president, he hopes that he did what he could to protect democracy and inspire our “better angels,” but he says he’s unsure how well he did.
‘What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America—not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind. I’m convinced that the pandemic we’re currently living through is both a manifestation of and a mere interruption in the relentless march toward an interconnected world, one in which peoples and cultures can’t help but collide. In that world—of global supply chains, instantaneous capital transfers, social media, transnational terrorist networks, climate change, mass migration, and ever-increasing complexity—we will learn to live together, cooperate with one another, and recognize the dignity of others, or we will perish. And so the world watches America—the only great power in history made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice—to see if our experiment in democracy can work. To see if we can do what no other nation has ever done. To see if we can actually live up to the meaning of our creed.’
"Barack Obama is as fine a writer as they come," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes in her review of the former president’s new memoir. "It is not merely that this book avoids being ponderous, but that it is nearly always pleasurable to read." https://t.co/5Yzlw1ftTV
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 12, 2020
What gives him hope, however, is that voter turnout is surging to record highs. More Americans voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential elections than for any candidate in history, and Donald Trump received more votes than any incumbent president in history. It took record numbers of people turning out, standing in lines, mailing in ballots, and casting their ballots to achieve that, but President Obama says that voters made the right choice.
‘The jury’s still out [on my presidency]. I’m encouraged by the record-setting number of Americans who turned out to vote in last week’s election, and have an abiding trust in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, in their character and capacity to do what is right. But I also know that no single election will settle the matter. Our divisions run deep; our challenges are daunting. If I remain hopeful about the future, it’s in large part because I’ve learned to place my faith in my fellow citizens, especially those of the next generation, whose conviction in the equal worth of all people seems to come as second nature, and who insist on making real those principles that their parents and teachers told them were true but that they perhaps never fully believed themselves. More than anyone else, my book is for those young people—an invitation to once again remake the world, and to bring about, through hard work, determination, and a big dose of imagination, an America that finally aligns with all that is best in us.’
The audio book, though… https://t.co/rGzGeXVeFJ
— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) November 13, 2020