‘When true democracy goes away, people get hurt,’ the former president said in Philadelphia.
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have “>10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.
Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
Former President Barack Obama at a rally at Temple University in Philadelphia on Saturday.
PHILADELPHIA — Former President Barack Obama on Saturday issued a stark warning about threats to American democracy, even as he acknowledged that many voters were consumed by a range of other urgent issues in the final stretch of the midterm campaign.
“I understand that democracy might not seem like a top priority right now, especially when you’re worried about paying the bills,” Mr. Obama said at a get-out-the-vote rally in Philadelphia, not far from the Liberty Bell. “But when true democracy goes away, we’ve seen throughout history, we’ve seen around the world, when true democracy goes away, people get hurt. It has real consequences.”
Mr. Obama’s comments came as he and President Biden rallied with Democratic candidates for governor and senator in the evenly divided state of Pennsylvania, stressing the high stakes of the elections to a crowd gathered at Temple University and lacing into the Republicans on the ballot.
They appeared together to support Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the nominee for Senate, and Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general and nominee for governor.
Mr. Fetterman is in a highly competitive race against Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician and Republican nominee. Mr. Shapiro has strongly outpolled his rival, Doug Mastriano, the far-right state senator.
Mr. Mastriano chartered buses to the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that led to the attack on the Capitol, and Mr. Obama noted associations between the Oz campaign and Jan. 6.
“This is not an abstraction,” Mr. Obama warned. “Governments start telling you what books you can read and which ones you can’t. Dissidents start getting locked up. Reporters start getting locked up if they’re not toeing the party line. Corruption reigns because there’s no accountability.”
Invoking the generations of Americans who “fought and died for our democracy,” and the suffragists, civil rights activists and labor advocates, Mr. Obama said: “They understood that when democracy withers, it’s hard to restore. You can’t take it for granted. You have to work for it. You have to nurture it. You have to fight for it.”
The good news, he told the audience, is “you get to make a difference, as long as you turn out to vote.”
Over the growing roar of the crowd, he continued: “You can fight for it as long as you turn out to vote. You can bolster and strengthen our democracy as long as you get out there and do what needs to be done.”