President Barack Obama has used one of his final presidential addresses to make an appeal to black voters. NBC News reports that Obama used a speech at the Phoenix Awards dinner hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to make his appeal. Obama begged black voters to turn out in numbers to ensure that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is elected come election day in November. Obama went so far as to say that he would take it as a “personal insult” if black voters stayed at home instead of supporting Clinton.
“There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter. It all matters,” Obama said. “I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election.”
While Obama did not name Donald Trump, he did make it clear that he believed that one candidate would continue his legacy while “there’s another candidate whose defining principle, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we’ve done.” In a show of solidarity and mutual appreciation, Clinton praised Obama as “one of the best presidents this country has ever had.” Clinton says that Obama and his family have represented America with “class, grace and integrity.”
Obama and Clinton are right to worry, and with the polls narrowing after Clinton misled Americans over her health issues, it seems unlikely that Clinton can secure the presidency without the support of those Obama has appealed to. CNN reports that Democrats are becoming increasingly worried about Clinton’s chances in November’s election.
“Nationally in CNN’s poll of polls, Clinton stands at 43% to Trump’s 41%. In the must-win states of Florida and Ohio, Trump and Clinton are deadlocked in this week’s polls.”
“In Iowa, a state President Barack Obama won twice, Trump leapt to an 8-point lead over Clinton in a Monmouth University poll released Thursday. [Whilst] in Virginia, Clinton and Trump were virtually tied at 40% to 37%.”
Of course, as a sitting second-term president, the prospect of Obama backing anyone but Clinton, his party’s nominated candidate, would be ludicrous. Obama will be hoping that his description of Trump as “somebody who has fought against civil rights and fought against equality and who has shown no regard for working people most of his life” will resonate with voters come polling day.
The problem is that by suggesting that he would take black voters staying at home as a “personal insult” and a danger to his legacy, Obama invites Americans to consider just what that legacy is.
If we turn the clock back eight years, many will recall that Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility as soon as he took office. Obama failed to deliver on that promise, although he still hopes to close the facility before he leaves office. Time and again, we have seen Obama appear on our TV screens after a mass killing making promises that he will make progress on gun control. Fine words, but Obama has failed to deliver on those promises and the slaughter on American streets continues.
As Politifact point out, Obama has broken election pledges by the score during his time in office. Obama failed to close the tax loopholes that allow oil and gas companies to pay little tax. He has failed to curb excessive bonuses for executives and failed to protect homeowners from foreclosure as he had promised. Obama has failed to allow the importation of cheaper medicines from abroad and has done nothing to curb the power of drug companies to monopolize the U.S. market.
Of course, no-one should underestimate the struggle that Obama has had to win support for his policies. A divided house certainly made Obama’s time in the White House challenging, but many would argue that Obama’s legacy is one of failure to deliver on his promises. All too often, Obama’s broken promises have hit those he is now appealing to the hardest.
In recent years, Obama has presided over numerous mass protests about police killings of African American men. Just days ago, the Washington Post reported on the latest killing when 13-year-old Tyre King was killed in Columbus Ohio. The simple fact is that many black Americans feel increasingly disenfranchised.
It is ironic that Obama should now reach out to the disenfranchised in a bid to secure Hillary Clinton the presidency.
[Featured Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]