"Our leaders seem intent to make up whatever facts they consider expedient," the former president said while accepting an award
Ten years after Barack Obama started shouting “Yes we can,” the former president still has hope.
The 44th president of the United States, 57, was honored with an award at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights 2018 Ripple of Hope Awards on Wednesday night. And while his speech mostly stayed true to the evening’s theme, he seemed to slip in a few sly few digs at President Donald Trump.
“Hope is never a willful ignorance to the hardships and cruelty that so many suffer or the enormous challenges that we face,” Obama declared to hundreds of silent gala attendees. “And hope is certainly not the smug complacency of those who’ve won life’s lottery, and think it’s all because of their talent or charm.”
But Obama understands why some Americans are losing hope in light of recent political discourse.
“When our leaders are content on making up whatever facts they want, a lot of people have begun to doubt the notion of common ground,” he said, possibly referencing Trump’s continued claims of “fake news.”
He used climate change as an example of why people should stay hopeful, while skillfully getting in another seeming dig at the Trump administration.
“Climate change is one of the most formidable tests that humanity has ever faced,” Obama stated. “But for all the climate deniers, for all the fingers in the ears, all the heads foolishly plunged into the sand, right now you have global investment in renewable energy…you have activists in the most remote corners of the world saving rainforests,” he pointed out.
President Trump, 72, is one of the biggest deniers of climate change, and recently said of the topic during a Washington Post interview, “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers.”
The former president has recently stopped shying away from opportunities to criticize the current president.
Last month, he reminded the American public that his administration faced far less legal scrutiny than that of President Trump while at a gala for the nonpartisan Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
“Not only did I not get indicted, nobody in my administration got indicted,” he said at the event. And in October, at a Democratic campaign event in Milwaukee, he accused Trump and other Republicans of failing “to take on corruption.”
But still, the former president told the crowd he’s still hopeful.
“We have to move faster, we have to work together,” he said Wednesday. “But we should pause tonight and take heart from the ripples of progress.”
He added in a tweet on Thursday, “As Bobby Kennedy taught us, the thing about hope is that it travels through space *and* time, first splashing against the rocks, but eventually breaking down the walls of cruelty and injustice.”
“And if we do our best with the time we’re given, others will take hope in our example.”