During a speech at the University of Illinois on Friday, former President Barack Obama took aim at the current occupant of the White House in what was — by far — his most critical comments of Trump since the 2016 election. Obama’s rebuke of Trump was part of his larger argument that the upcoming midterm elections are historically important, as he noted the “consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”
“Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals, that all of us are created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, the ideals that say every child should have opportunity and every man and woman in this country who’s willing to work hard should be able to find a job and support a family and pursue their small piece of the American dream,” Obama asserted. “Ideals that say we have a collective responsibility to care for the sick and the infirm. and we have a responsibility to conserve the amazing bounty, the natural resources of this country and of this planet for future generations. each time we’ve gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back.”
Noting that much of the time the “backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change,” the president added that “more often it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege.”
This led to him finally mentioning Trump by name.
“And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments,” the former POTUS stated. “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.”
After the audience applauded, Obama continued, “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years! The fear and anger that’s rooted in our past, but it’s also borne out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
Watch the clip above, via CNN.