WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, in his first comments on the Nov. 8 election following the selection of Donald Trump as president, told those marching in protest and others upset over the nation’s choice for president, said something he has been saying throughout his eight-year term.
“Hopefully, it’s a reminder that elections matter and voting counts,” he told reporters during a White House press conference. “And so, you know, I don’t know how many times we have to relearn this lesson, because we ended up having 43 percent of the country not voting who were eligible to vote, but it makes a difference.”
African Americans and other groups failed to go to the polls at the record numbers generated by their opponents, according to polls, which assured Trump a presidential victory.
While most thought that Obama wouldn’t spare negative comments about the incoming president, he stayed away from critical statements.
“I don’t think he is ideological,” Obama said. “I think ultimately he’s pragmatic in that way. That can serve him well as long as he’s got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction.”
Trump, who has made harsh statements about the Obama administration throughout his campaign, has announced his appointed key strategist in the White House. Steve Bannon, a major proponent in the ultraconservative alt-right movement, will be Trump’s right-hand man and senior adviser.
Civil rights activists — Democrats and some Republicans — said Brannon, the head of conservative Breitbart News, would bring racist, anti-Semitic and nationalist view to the government. Obama refused to comment on Brannon’s appointment.
“I think it’s fair to say that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making if I want to be consistent with the notion that we are going to try to facilitate a smooth transition,” he said.
The president described Thursday’s hour and a half-long meeting with Trump as “cordial.” Many were skeptical of the conversation and wanted to know if the president’s opinion of his successor had changed.
“My advice to him, as I said when we had our discussions, is that campaigning is different from governing,” he said. “I think he recognizes that. I think he’s sincere in wanting to be a successful president and wanting to move this country forward.
He said he did have some concerns about Trump, particularly around his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, which some have derisively called “Obamacare.”
He suggested Trump rethink the changes he stated he would make to Obama’s program and the deferred deportation of young immigrants.
Throughout the conference, Obama continued to urge discouraged Democrats to realize that things in a democracy change rapidly, but not inevitably. He said he wants them to maintain their core values as America makes the transition to a new administration.
The president finished the conference by saying what he will do to help Trump direct the country in the right direction.
“And so we will try to share the lessons that we’ve learned over these last eight years with the incoming president, and my hope is he makes things better,” he said, “and if he does, we’ll all benefit from it.”
Thanks to the Howard University News Service for sharing this story with us.