Obama: Tolerance, Democracy and Justice Are on the Ballot

Regardless of what you think about President Obama, I suspect that the one thing we can all agree on is that he is not prone to hyperbole. As a matter of fact, over his two terms in office, this President’s critics on the left have often accused him of using rhetoric that is too soft in describing his opponents.

That is why it behooves us to take a moment to think about some of the things he said during his remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual dinner.

If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake. All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election. My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot.

Those are incredibly strong words for Obama to use. You can rest assured that he doesn’t do so carelessly, or simply to rev up the crowd in the room. He has never done that before and he’s not about to start now.

What has Obama seen that leads him to make such claims?

Tolerance is on the ballot when a candidate for president calls Mexicans rapists, when he wants to ban immigrants based on their religion, when he disparages a federal judge based on his Mexican heritage and a gold star family because they are Muslim.

Democracy is on the ballot when a candidate for president describes “midnight in America” and says, “I alone can fix it.” The same one who, when talking about his plan for defeating ISIS says, “I will give you good results. Don’t worry how I get there, okay?” And the guy who heaps praise on dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

Justice is on the ballot when a candidate for president responds to police shootings of unarmed Black men with, “We need to give the police more power.” The same one who dog whistles about being a “law and order” president. And the guy who bemoans the fact that, in this country, even a man who plants explosive devices will get his day in court and, when in prison, be fed and given medical care.

Elections are almost always filled with hyperbole. But President Obama isn’t kidding around and he certainly isn’t overstating his case. When – of all people – he’s the one saying that tolerance, democracy and justice are on the ballot this time, you can take that one to the bank.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.