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Obama says Americans voted for Trump because Republicans cast white men as ‘victims’


Barack Obama said part of the reason 73 million Americans voted to re-elect Donald Trump in the election was because of messaging from Republicans that the country, particularly white men, are under attack.

In an interview with the radio show the Breakfast Club on Wednesday to promote his new memoir A Promised Land, Obama said Trump’s administration, which he did not name directly, “objectively has failed, miserably, in handling just basic looking after the American people and keeping them safe”, and yet he still secured millions of votes.

“What’s always interesting to me is the degree to which you’ve seen created in Republican politics the sense that white males are victims,” Obama said. “They are the ones who are under attack – which obviously doesn’t jive with both history and data and economics. But that’s a sincere belief, that’s been internalized, that’s a story that’s being told and how you unwind that is going to be not something that is done right away.”

Later, one of the show’s hosts, DJ Envy, asked Obama how he responds to criticism from Black people and other communities of color who don’t believe he did enough for them as president.

“I understand it because when I was elected there was so much excitement and hope, and I also think we generally view the presidency as almost like a monarchy in the sense of once the president’s there, he can just do whatever needs to get done and if he’s not doing it, it must be because he didn’t want to do it,” Obama said.

Envy challenged Obama, making the case that Trump has behaved in exactly that way.

“Because he breaks laws or disregards the constitution,” Obama said. “The good news for me was I was very confident in what I had done for Black folks because I have the statistics to prove it.”

Obama continued to highlight how his policies saw Black people’s incomes rise, poverty drop and access to healthcare increase.

“The issue is sometimes we just didn’t go around advertising that because again the goal here is to build coalitions where everybody is getting something so they all feel like they have a stake in it,” Obama said. “But a lot of my policies were targeted towards people most in need. Those folks are disproportionately African American.”

Obama also spoke about the role of the public and Congress in making change. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, blocked much of the Obama administration’s efforts in the Republican-controlled Senate in the final years of his presidency.

A similar fate could be awaiting President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, Obama warned. It is unknown which party will control the Senate until the results are in from two runoff elections in Georgia scheduled for 5 January.

“If the Republicans win those two seats, then Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will not be able to get any law passed that Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans aren’t going to go along with,” Obama said.

That was one of the only mentions Obama made of the incoming president, who sparked controversy on social media in May after an interview with the Breakfast Club where he said: “If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Later that day, Biden apologized: “No one, no one, should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background.”



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