Former President Barack Obama appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday, where he spoke about the impact President Trump has had on society, including the president’s penchant for hyperbole and sometimes, outright falsehoods.
“We have gone through a presidency that has disregarded a whole host of basic institutional norms, expectations we have for a president that had been observed by Republicans and Democrats previously,” Obama said. “And maybe most importantly, and most disconcertingly, what we’ve seen is what some people call truth decay, something that’s been accelerated by outgoing President Trump. This sense that not only do we not have to tell the truth, but the truth doesn’t even matter.”
Trump continues to dispute the results of the election, claiming without evidence that he lost due to widespread voter fraud, and many Republicans are placating the president as he goes to court in multiple states in an attempt to prove fraud. Obama believes that it’s dangerous to our democracy for Republicans to humor the president in fighting the election results.
“The president doesn’t like to lose, and never admits loss,” Obama said. “I’m more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion. It is one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally, and that’s a dangerous path.”
Several Republican state officials across the country have refuted Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and Obama called on more Republicans to stand up to the president, not just about the election, but also Trump’s spreading of misinformation concerning it, while at the same time calling out the media for its part in the current political climate in the country.
“It has now become a contest where issues, facts, policies per se, don’t matter as much as identity and wanting to beat the other guy. That’s taken priority. I do think the current media environment adds to that greatly,” Obama said. “This democracy doesn’t work if we don’t have an informed citizenry. This democracy doesn’t work if we don’t have responsible elected officials at other levels who are willing to call the president when he’s not doing something right. Call him on it.”
And while Obama believes that President-elect Joe Biden will set a new tone, there is work to be done in the effort for a more informed public.
“I do think that a new president can set a new tone. That’s not gonna solve all the gridlock in Washington,” Obama said. “I think we’re going to have to work with the media and with the tech companies to find ways to inform the public better about the issues, and to bolster the standards that ensured we can separate truth from fiction.”
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