All politics, all the time.
Using his commencement speech as a get-out-the-vote event for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid and the broader Democratic party, President Barack Obama used racial politics to appeal to the “blackness” of graduating students of Howard University.
“You have to go through life with more than just passion for change. You need a strategy,” said Obama to the historically black college’s graduating cohort.
“Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes. You see, change requires more than just righteous anger. It requires a program and it requires organizing,” said the former community organizer.
Saying he was “proud of the new guard of black civil rights leaders,” Obama praised the “activism” of #BlackTwitter and the neo-Marxist “Black Lives Matter” movement.
On the subject of disparities between blacks and whites in social and economic dimensions, Obama called for continuing to fight against “racism” and “inequality.” Outside of the realm of political agitation and reform, no advice was offered to young black adults to improve their aggregate position relative to the rest of America. Guidance along the lines of conducting oneself with honor and virtue, the importance of marriage and raising families, and voluntary charitable work was not on offer.
Instead, Obama’s diagnosis of the ills of racial disparities came with one prescription: political activism, namely voting for and supporting Democrats at all levels of government.
Blacks were in a unique situation, said Obama, to understand and appreciate injustice. It was incumbent upon blacks, continued Obama, to maximize their political engagement given the sacrifices of their forebearers to secure political rights. To do right by their ancestors, concluded Obama, blacks needed to vote for Democrats in greater numbers.
“Passion is vital, but you gotta have a strategy. And your plan better include voting. Not just some of the time, but all of the time,” said Obama. “This is the only advanced democracy on Earth that goes out of its way to make it difficult for people to vote, and there’s a reason to that. There’s a legacy to that.”
Obama lamented what he described as low voting rates. Noting that “only 36% of Americans turned out to vote in the mid-terms” in 2014, Obama chastised younger voters for not exercising what he described as their duty to vote.
“You don’t think that made a difference in terms of the Congress I’ve gotta deal with? And then people are wondering, ‘How come Obama hadn’t gotten this done? How come he didn’t get that done?’ You don’t think that made a difference? What would’ve happened if you had turned out, at fifty, sixty, seventy percent? All across this country?” rhetorically asked Obama.
Reminding the black graduates of the obstacles faced by their ancestors in pursuing political rights and exercising them, Obama said that today there is “no excuse” for blacks not to vote.
“People try to make this political things really complicated, like, ‘What kinds of reforms do we need? How do we need to do that?’ You know what? Just vote. It’s math. If you have more votes than the other guy, you get to do what you want. It’s not that complicated,” said Obama.
“You gotta vote all the time. Not just when it’s cool. Not just when it’s time to elect a president. Not just when you’re inspired. It’s your duty,” concluded Obama.
This is Obama at his most politically effective. Freedom lovers and patriots should take notice.
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