President Obama has tried to convince the country that Donald Trump's presidency is not the end of democracy — just a bit of a zigzag on the path to progress. "Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team," he said after Trump won. But is that how he really feels? These are the
saddest Obama quotes about Trump taking the White House, which might tell a different story.
In an interview with
Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner, Obama tried again to put on a brave face, despite the White House having the same atmosphere as a funeral during the interview. "I don't feel dismayed, because, number one, I couldn't be prouder of the work that we've done over the last eight years," Obama said. "When I turn over the keys to the federal government to the next president of the United States, I can say without any equivocation that the country is a lot better off: The economy is stronger, the federal government works better, and our standing in the world is higher." That's all true, but there are feelings there, too.
These nine quotes about Obama handing the White House keys over to Donald Trump are some of his saddest revelations yet.
From the same
Rolling Stone piece, Obama opened up about being bummed out: Well, I'm disappointed, partly because I think Hillary Clinton would be a very fine president. As I said on the campaign trail, a lot of the work we've done is only partially complete. And we need some continuity in order for us to maximize its benefits.
And he fessed up to Wenner about the negative things that could happen —
some of which we're already seeing: I don't want to sugarcoat it. There are consequences to elections. It means that the next Supreme Court justice is going to be somebody who doesn’t reflect my understanding of the Constitution. It means that the work we've done internationally and domestically on climate is going to be threatened. It means that the Affordable Care Act, which has provided 20 million people with health insurance, is going to be modified in ways that some people are going to be hurt by.
From Which You Can't Recover
Speaking to David Remnick of
The New Yorker, he compared his loss in the New Hampshire primary to Clinton's now — perhaps because it's his only big loss. But then he spelled out the difference between the two: In this situation, the consequences are much higher. It’s terminal. It’s the end of the road on the election. You can’t recover from the election.
He also told Remnick the biggest worry policy-wise:
Obviously, the Affordable Care Act, I think, is most vulnerable, because that has been a unifying bogeyman for Republicans over the course of the last six years. In the minds of a lot of the Republican base, it is an example of a big government program designed to take something from them and give it to someone else who is unworthy.
When speaking with Ta-Nehisi Coates for
The Atlantic, Obama addressed what citizens need to be vigilant of: Now, I think it’s absolutely important to be concerned that our criminal-justice system, the FBI, the Justice Department, law enforcement take seriously civil liberties. Because the possibility of abuse by government officials always exists.
Essentially, this is one of those temporary setbacks, as he also told Coates:
But as I have said publicly in all the interviews that I’ve conducted since the election, to be optimistic about the long-term trends of the United States doesn’t mean that everything is going to go in a smooth, direct, straight line. It, you know, goes forward sometimes, sometimes it goes back, sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it zigs and zags.
Back with Remnick, Obama made it clear how much harder Trump's win is on him and his team going forward:
I think that if Hillary Clinton had won the election then I’d just turn over the keys. We’d make sure the briefing books were in order and out we go. I think now I have some responsibility to at least offer my counsel to those who will continue to be elected officials about how the D.N.C. can help rebuild, how state parties and progressive organizations can work together.
He also told Remnick about how he had explained the election to his daughters — including some of the more upsetting rhetoric from Trump. Here's how this can happen:
What I say to them is that people are complicated. Societies and cultures are really complicated... This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms and it's messy. And your job as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding
With Wenner he seemed to see a reason to continue. He explained his attempts at motivating his younger staff to continue their work. It can be something you use to get through this, too:
There's no benefit that's derived from pulling into a fetal position. We go out there, and we work. And we slog through challenges, and over time things get better.
Through these quotes you see the less optimistic side of Obama. There's still no negativity about the future, but there's also a sense of loss of what could have been.
Those are some emotions we have all been feeling.