Former US President Barack Obama has said the biggest challenge for President-elect Joe Biden will be to bridge the divide in the country and bring together a largely polarized population.
“You have seen growing divisions, some of which are deeply rooted in issues of race and gender and date back to the founding of this country, some of which are the result of a changing economy,” Obama told TBEN Radio. The stream in an exclusive Canadian interview to air on TBEN Radio Monday morning.
Obama said Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would “set a different tone” than the Trump administration but face a divided country, a country where more than 73 million people voted for Trump and some support still the refusal of the current president to concede.
Obama was the 44th President of the United States from 2008 until Trump’s upset victory in 2016. His new book, A promised land, published last Wednesday, traces his rise in politics to the first two and a half years of his two-term presidency.
The book, the first in a two-volume memoir by his presidency, broke records, selling nearly 890,000 copies in the United States and Canada within its first 24 hours.
- Listen to the full interview on The stream on TBEN Radio One, Monday at 8:37 a.m., online or on the TBEN Listen application.
Obama said The streamHost Matt Galloway said healing the divisions will be especially difficult for a Democratic president because “the media breakup has created a great ecosystem of conservative media that is very difficult to penetrate.”
“If this is your source for what’s going on in the outside world, then you would think that Donald Trump not only did a great job as president, but you would think that it is justified to take the positions he takes, ”Obama said.
He warned that it is important for Democrats to try to understand why people voted for Trump, as it will be “difficult to do great things if the country is so polarized.”
“How to bridge this gap between those who strongly opposed this president and those who still support him will be a big challenge,” he said.
“There are all kinds of ways a determined opposition can block everything, not just certain things. So I think Joe is going to have to try to come up with areas of potential compromise.”
WATCH | Biden must tap into the “ areas of potential compromise ”:
Failure to lead
When asked if, as the country’s first black president, he viewed his successor, Donald Trump, as racist, Obama said what was important was that Trump was “more than happy to stir up racist feelings “during his four years in power. Whether or not he personally believed the rhetoric didn’t matter, he said.
“I’m not interested in what’s in his heart. I’m interested in what he’s doing,” Obama said.
“Whether he’s cynically riding this wave to get his way or whether it taps into something he actually believes in, here’s what I can say for sure: that he doesn’t consider it his job to struggle. against racist feelings.
“This, to me, is a failure of any leader.”
He said that during Trump’s tenure rhetoric that had been relegated to the fringes of the Republican Party had moved “to the fore.”
“This fear of the other, this suggestion that there are sort of real Americans and then there are people who I guess are fake Americans,” he said.
“And somehow fake Americans tend to be like me.”
WATCH | Trump ‘more than happy to stir up racist feelings’: Obama
Advice on the sidelines
Four years after leaving office, Obama said he lacked the camaraderie, teamwork and “the mental exercise of solving difficult political problems” – but not the pomp of the presidency.
Someone once asked him if he would serve a third term if he could.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be up front,” he said.
“But if someone had said, you can sit in your basement in your hoodies, and there’s somebody else playing the speaker with a microphone in your ear, and you can just give suggestions and a policy – so I could have appreciated doing that. “
WATCH | What Obama is missing from the presidency: