Former US President Barack Obama on Thursday criticized people who attack “the right to vote with” surgical precision “and minorities, in reference to the attempts of the current president, Donald Trump, to discourage the practice of voting by mail during the covid-19 pandemic.
Not to mention the name of Trump, Obama delivered a combative speech at the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, a historic civil rights leader who was arrested several times for defending the black community’s right to vote.
Obama praised Lewis and recalled that the congressman, who died at the age of 80, “devoted his time on Earth to fighting the same attacks on democracy that are currently circulating”.
“While we’re sitting here, there are people in power who are doing everything they can to suppress the vote, closing polling places, attacking minorities and students with restrictive identification laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, including undermining the postal service before the elections, which will depend on postal votes so that we don’t get sick “, said the ex-president, who received a standing ovation.
A few hours earlier, Trump he suggested that the elections scheduled for November 3 be postponed, something that the current president cannot decide because he needs to have the support of most of the Congress, where Democrats control the House of Representatives.
Throughout his speech, Obama said election day should be a holiday for all Americans to vote. The former president also criticized the closure of some polling centers in recent years, especially in poor areas.
Obama further questioned the laws that, since 2013, some conservative-controlled states have passed to force voters to show a photo ID, even though there is no national identity card in the U.S. and citizens are not required to have such identification.
He also defended the US Postal Service, whose reliability Trump he doubted and is in a precarious economic situation, which is why the most skeptical believe that the post office will not be able to take on the workload in the November elections.
Suppression of demonstrations
Again without mentioning his successor, Obama criticized federal agents who “used tear gas against peaceful protesters” and compared the United States to Trump to Jim Crow’s laws, which institutionalized racial segregation in the country in the late 19th century.
Recalling Lewis, the former president urged Americans to pay attention to the worst instincts ingrained in the country’s history.
“He (Lewis) knew from experience that progress is fragile, that we have to be careful with the darkest currents in the history of our country, of our own history. Where there are swirls of violence, hatred and despair, evil can resurface “, he warned.
Absence of Trump
In addition to Obama, ex-presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton attended the funeral at the Ebenezer Baptist Church – where Martin Luther King was reverend.
Trump he did not attend the funeral in Atlanta, nor the tribute to Lewis made this week at the US Congress, which was attended by Vice President Mike Pence.
Lewis and Trump they had an already known relationship of enmity: the congressman did not attend the inauguration of the current president in 2017 and criticized the Republican several times for his government’s immigration policy and other matters.