In a Q&A session before the Economic Club of Chicago Wednesday, former President Barack Obama brought attention to the fragility of democracy, invoking 1930s Germany in his plea that American's pay attention. Though he never named the current president outright, his disapproval was clear.
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."
The remarks followed a subtle, if not indirect, criticism of President Donald Trump's 'America First' foreign policy.
One thing he's learned is that "things don't happen internationally if we don't put our shoulder to the wheel," Obama said, speaking of the U.S. "No other country has the experience and bandwidth and ideals. . . .If the U.S. doesn't do it, it's not going to happen." Obama gave one specific example, but it was a solid one: Ebola. To fight the virus the U.S. did everything from build an airport tarmac in Africa to send in medical teams and ferry medicos from other countries. "We probably saved a million lives by doing that," he said.