How should you address an ex-president
The worldwide first edition of Barack Obama's memories is impressive. Six million copies of the 768-page work under the title “A Promised Land” appeared on Tuesday in 19 languages simultaneously.
The timing of publication shortly after Vice President Joe Biden's election victory catapulted Obama into the headlines. Especially since his successor Donald Trump has not yet recognized the clear vote of the voters. In doing so, the incumbent gave the media an opportunity to interview the Nobel Prize laureate about his memoirs and the elections as if on an assembly line. For example, the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg, to whom Obama explained his concern for the future of democracy in America. A topic that he addresses in the preface to his memoir. "Our divisions are deep, our challenges are enormous," is how the 44th President of the United States describes the country's constitution after four years of devastating white nationalism in the White House.
In his memoir, Obama breaks down the challenges of American democracy on his own experience as the first black President in the White House. “It was as if my presence in the White House alone had released a deep-seated panic, an idea that the natural order had been disrupted,” he describes in “A Promised Land” the shock that his election was in the midst of a threatening financial crisis Had triggered dividing society.
He describes how the Republicans from the first day of his presidency exploited the uncertainties in the crisis to stir up resentment. Especially among the white population, who feared for the privileges they have inherited over the centuries. In the course of the presidency he had to find more and more often “that the mood that we had observed for the first time in the closing phase of Sarah Palin's election campaign and into the tea party summer had spilled over from the edge of the Republican Party to its core ".
Starting with the threat of the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, to block Obama every step of the way. A promise that he kept after the 2010 midterm elections when the “Yes-We-Can” president received what he said was a “rub-off” from the voters. Trump instinctively understood how he could use the fears in society politically. He started his approach to the presidency with an essentially racist lie.
Trump and the "Birther" legend
Obama recalls the "Birther" legend that Trump circulated. “He spread the claim that I was not born in the United States and therefore was not a legitimate President. He promised millions of Americans who were terrified of a black man in the White House an elixir to treat their ethnic fears. "That his presidency ends with the no less racist lie that the elections are in metropolises like Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Atlanta "stolen" hold explosives for the future.
Obama writes that he has firm faith in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but a single election won't change things overnight. The ex-president is particularly concerned about what he describes as the "decay of truth". He describes a political culture in which "everything is allowed and facts do not count". For example, that Biden conquered five states from Trump, won 306 electoral votes and was more than five million votes ahead of Trump.
Obama is actively involved in the discourse on America's future with his memoirs. He has a lot to contribute. So much that the originally targeted 500 pages have become one and a half times as many. And that this is only the first part of the biography that ends with the secret commando action against Osama Bin Laden. The explosive chapters on the war in Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, the nuclear treaty with Iran and the 2016 election year are still pending.
Despite concerns about the attacks on democracy in America, Obama is generally optimistic. For him, the election of Biden is proof that America is looking ahead again. Like the portrait on the cover of the bestseller, on which he himself looks confidently into the future of the promised land.
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