From Crain’s Chicago Business:
December 06, 2017
American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Mixed in with many softer comments, that was the somewhat jaw-dropping bottom line of Barack Obama last night as, in a Q&A session before the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicagoan who used to be president dropped a bit of red meat to a hometown crowd that likely is a lot closer to him than the man whose name never was mentioned: President Donald Trump.
Obama’s comments came after a series of playful questions from moderator and Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson
In agreeing to be interviewed by Ms. Hobson, Obama was really stretching the envelope of his social comfort zone, which extends from wealthy Chicago black people all the way to rich Chicago black people. Mellody Hobson, who is George Lucas’s girlfriend and a two-time Bilderberger, is president of the Ariel investment fund founded by John W. Rogers, Princeton basketball teammate of Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson.
—in the great Batman vs. Superman debate, for instance, we learned Obama sides with Batman—before she eventually asked him what he’s learned as a world citizen of sorts. …
At least indirectly, those comments could be seen as criticism of Trump, whose foreign policy focuses on an “America first” paradigm that critics say distracts from this country’s unique role.
Obama moved from that to talking about a nativist mistrust and unease that has swept around the world. He argued that such things as the speed of technical change and the uneven impact of globalization have come too quickly to be absorbed in many cultures, bringing strange new things and people to areas in which “people didn’t (used to) challenge your assumptions.” As a result, “nothing feels solid,” he said. “Sadly, there’s something in us that looks for simple answers when we’re agitated.”
Still, the U.S. has survived tough times before and will again, he noted, particularly mentioning the days of communist fighter Joseph McCarthy and former President Richard Nixon. But one reason the country survived is because it had a free press to ask questions, Obama added. Though he has problems with the media just like Trump has had, “what I understood was the principle that the free press was vital.”
The danger is “grow(ing) complacent,” Obama said. “We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly.”
That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s, which despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate, Obama noted. “Sixty million people died. . . .So, you’ve got to pay attention. And vote.”
Obama said his greatest “regret and disappointment” was the failure to enact tighter controls on gun possession.