Obama: A decent relay race

Barack Obama, 59 years old, former President of the United States

Mr. President, how are you feeling after your “brother” Joseph Biden was elected? Is it joy from the heart, feeling relaxed, or worrying about the hardships ahead?
Both! I have always been deeply worried about where our country will go under Trump’s leadership. This is no secret. I believe that under the leadership of Biden and Harris, we will regain the values ​​that I valued when I was in office and also made the United States a world leader: respect for basic human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and value our alliance with NATO partners. , I believe that we have the responsibility to support democracy, human rights and freedom of speech around the world, and not to be in the same way as dictators. So, in many respects, I am optimistic about the future of the United States. But based on the election results, I must also admit: the United States is still divided, and we cannot eliminate this division. This is not only a problem in the United States, but also in Europe and other places. Some people are willing to embrace the multicultural world and are willing to learn how to accept each other and cooperate with each other. Some people are afraid of change and respond with nationalism, often hoping for a strong and authoritarian leader. I think the competition between the two sides is still ongoing, and we need to find a better answer for this.

Trump does not admit that he has lost the election, and is unwilling to transfer power in accordance with regulations. Trump attacked you at the beginning of his political career, saying that you were not born in the United States. Now, isn’t his approach a further attack on democracy?
This is predictable. Trump has acted countless times to tell people that he does not respect many basic principles that were previously valued equally by Republicans and Democrats. I also wrote in a book: When I succeeded in 2008, I had totally disagreements with Bush Jr., but he was very friendly and willing to help me to ensure the smooth completion of the transfer of power. Trump is unwilling to do this, so for the Biden administration, it will definitely be more difficult for the Biden administration to concentrate all its efforts on fighting the epidemic from the first day in office to fight the ensuing economic crisis. But regardless of whether the transfer of power is ultimately completed amicably or reluctantly, a new president will take up his duties on January 20 and lead the country forward.

Biden is not so young anymore, with less inspiration, and he is not good at embarking on a new journey. How can he do it?
I am no longer young, and have a lot of gray hair. I think what Joseph and Kamala have in common with me is that we all believe that we must listen to the voices of young people and encourage them to participate in democracy. Young people should know their importance and strength, and they should know how precious it is to integrate their views on things into politics. Take environmental protection as an example: I think that when we are facing the worst consequences of climate change, Joseph is no longer alive, and he will not be blamed for it. I do not know either. Climate change affects our children and grandchildren.

Biden must face the reality that voters do not want him to compromise. How can Americans learn to reach a new compromise?

In 2015, Obama and Merkel during the G7 summit

There are two major problems with our politics. One problem lies in our state machinery itself. Our political system is based on the separation of powers. The Senate is one of the two houses of the legislature. However, Wyoming, which has a population of 500,000, has two members, and California, which has a population of 39 million, has two members. It is difficult to realize the opinion of the majority. This is a problem rooted in the political system. To make matters worse, we still have a “lengthy debate” process, which artificially extended unrestricted speeches often seriously delays the passage of the bill. This must be changed before we can make great strides forward. Another issue is the type of culture. In our country, countless different worlds have been divided, and the standard of division is not only skin color and beliefs, but also urban and rural areas. But the most worrying thing may be that each party now has its own media, and therefore has the facts that they themselves believe. If all parties do not proceed from a common reality, it will be difficult to reach a compromise.

In 2008, then US President Barack Obama and his deputy Biden

Trump claimed that there was fraud in the election process, although no one found even one piece of evidence, although even local Republican officials said that the election process was normal. But now, millions of people believe that there is indeed election fraud, because it is not only Trump who tweeted, Fox News and radio host Rush Limburg also hyped the same argument. Therefore, if there is such a distortion of the facts, it will be difficult to reach a compromise. I think Joseph will do his best to reach out to Republicans. We should have areas where we can reach compromises.

During your eight years as president, you have dealt with many challenges: the financial crisis, the major economic crisis, the Syrian war… In your opinion, what are your greatest achievements and failures?
I tried to emphasize in my new book, The Promised Land, how close we were to a global depression. We have prevented the world from slipping into a worse economic state, which I am still proud of. Of course, we also paid a heavy political price for this, because it was different from the time of Roosevelt. When Roosevelt became president, the world economic crisis had been going on for three years. Everyone knew who was at fault, and Roosevelt could have a fresh start. When I took office, the economy had just begun to go downhill. People still couldn’t understand how bad the real situation was. Although we could prevent a rapid economic downturn, people were still disappointed that there was no rapid growth. Nevertheless, I still think that we are doing well.

Although the Paris Climate Agreement cannot stop global climate change, it has created an international framework that clearly tells everyone that we are all responsible, we must assume our own roles for this, and must participate in solving problems. We paved the way for the agreement, and I am proud of it.

My health care reform and the “Affordable Care Act” laid the foundation for the introduction of a policy that was decades late. Other industrial countries have long understood that in a rich country like ours, everyone must have medical insurance, but we have not fully achieved it.

In 2016, Obama greeted his successor Trump at the White House with complex expressions.

However, there is no doubt that I failed to transfer my prestige advantage to my party. The Democrats lost in the midterm elections two years after I took office. Even when I was re-elected, we did not regain the majority of seats in Congress. In terms of foreign policy, the tragedy in Syria has greatly hurt me, and I have failed to let the international community prevent the “disintegration of Syria.” I can’t stop thinking about the human suffering that ensued.

What do you think of German Chancellor Merkel?
I often say that I have great respect for Angela Merkel. So far, she is an outstanding political leader, not only for Germany, but also for Europe and the world. Our relationship has deepened and we have worked together on many things. At first she was a little skeptical of me, saying that she would not trust such a good speaker any time soon. On economic policy, we had different opinions early on. She always reiterated Germany’s position, which was partly rooted in German history, that excessive government spending and national fiscal deficits are bad things. I believe that in economic crises and recessions, government spending must be increased counter-cyclically. So, we will argue, but she is very stable, smart, kind, and a very good person.

Merkel has proven her leadership in many crises in Europe and made her a very important partner of us. I trust her completely. At any moment of our cooperation, I can feel that she has been trying to do the right thing. She always speaks very sincerely about what she can’t do. She is an excellent politician. She opposed the nationalism that split Europe for hundreds of years, and played an extremely important role in maintaining European unity and European ideals. People will miss her after she leaves office.

What do you think of your place in history?
This has to make historians say, I’m not sure if I can judge this now. What I can be certain to a certain extent is that at the end of my term, the United States and the world are better than at the beginning of my term, and I am proud of that. I regard the presidency as a relay race, take the baton, finish my own section, and then pass the baton on. I believe that I completed my stage well. I also often say this to Michelle: We finished our race with dignity and there was no scandal. I must have been changing with my experience, but I have never felt that this very special position has distorted my heart. Fortunately, this is also reflected in my children. Several of my daughters are very ordinary, don’t think they are special, and are not spoiled. They are very friendly, considerate and enthusiastic. This is mainly due to Michelle and my mother-in-law, but I also played a role.

How would the idealistic Barack Obama in his youth view Obama, a doer who is now nearly 60 years old?

I am pretty sure that he will critically look at some of my compromises and decisions, but I am also willing to imagine. He will say that I am a good role model, and may even ask me why I didn’t dye my hair.