Obama’s movement to challenge Trump
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As President Obama gave his farewell address to the nation on Tuesday night, he also began the shift to a third stage of his political career. The once young, idealistic senator-turned-two-term-president will soon become an influential strategist and ally to those worried about the future with Donald Trump at the helm of the most powerful nation on the planet.
Obama nodded to this new role in his speech Tuesday. He did not directly criticize his successor, but used lines like “I reject discrimination against Muslim-Americans” that were clearly aimed at Trump and delighted the audience of more than 20,000 Democrats who crowded into McCormick Place to hear his final address as president.
His path forward is still evolving. Prior to November’s election, Obama and his aides had hinted that the outgoing president would limit his future involvement in politics and instead focus on writing a book chronicling his eight years in office, use his foundation to expand his “My Brother’s Keeper” program and give speeches and join boards, as other ex-presidents have done.
But now, Obama’s chief achievements, such as his climate change policies and the Affordable Care Act, are in danger of being gutted by the Republican Congress, the Democratic Party is in disarray and much of the country — and the world — is uncertain what a Trump presidency will bring.
So Obama is beginning to telegraph a post-presidency different from George W. Bush, who largely receded from politics altogether after his eight years in office. Obama has said that he will press the Democratic Party to organize more effectively, from fielding strong candidates in school board and state legislative elections across the country to making sure the party’s candidates campaign in more conservative areas.
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