NEW YORK, Aug 22: Former US President Barack Obama has declared that President Donald Trump posed an existential threat to the country’s democratic values and institutions, and he implored voters to “embrace your own responsibility as citizens”.
“That’s what’s at stake right now our democracy,” Obama said from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on the third night of the Democratic National Convention at which Senator Kamala Devi Harris made history by becoming the first woman of colour to accept a major-party nomination for the vice presidency.
“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” Obama said. “And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.”
At the White House in Washington, President Trump hit back, saying he was only elected because of the failed policies of Obama.“President Obama did not do a good job. The reason I’m here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden (the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee). Because if they did a good job, I wouldn’t be here.” In a subsequent tweet, Trump said: “Welcome, Barack and Crooked Hillary (Clinton, his challenger in the 2016 election). See you on the field of battle!” The grand finale of the four-night convention will see Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden deliver a speech on Thursday night.
The Biden-Harris ticket will challenge President Trump and his Vice-President Mike Pence for the White House in the election on 3 November. The coronavirus pandemic has forced Democrats to abandon the cheering throngs and festivities that are the hallmarks of the quadrennial party convention in favour of a virtual event of pre-recorded and live speeches.
He said the consequences of the Trump presidency have been “our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before”.
The former president lamented “the circus of it all, the meanness and the lies and the conspiracy theories”. “Do not let them take away your power,” he implored American voters. “Do not let them take away your democracy.”
Obama encouraged voters to elect his former vice-president, Biden, in 76 days’ time – praising him as “my friend” and “a brother”. Political observers noted that he former president has become gradually more outspoken about his successor as he has watched him dismantle his legacy.