On September 7th Barack Obama gave a speech to students of my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A few days earlier on August 30th, Donald Trump gave a speech at a campaign rally in Evansville, Indiana.
I put the speeches side-by-side in the hopes that it could be a conversation aid for talking with other voters this midterm election (or family holiday season), particularly those who support another candidate.
Note: I've featured excerpts from the transcripts as the full speeches are quite long. You can use the links above to see the full transcripts. Trump is on the left, Obama on the right. You'll need to view this on a laptop in a wide-enough window to avoid text getting cut off.
|Evansville, you are very, very special people, and thank you, Indiana. Thank you. Thank you. We had great success in Indiana, as you know. It was an incredible experience. And we really honor you very, very special people. Thank you very much. Thank you. --- Because things are happening. Let me tell you just really quickly about something that did happen. So last week, you probably saw it, because it gets ratings, they put it on television, right? If it didn't get ratings, they wouldn't be putting it on. But last week, you saw it, I was in the great state of West Virginia. We were in a fantastic arena, beautiful, smaller than this, but a very great place. We had crowds that were incredible. And the enthusiasm, I hate to tell you, the enthusiasm that you have tonight, in West Virginia, it was exactly the same. Can't get any more, right? And the failing New York Times, which, by the way, if I wasn't here, those -- they would be out of business, the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN. --- That's what's happening. We're so far ahead of schedule. People come up to me all the time and they go, "Thank you, Mr. President." Just backstage right now. People. "Thank you, Mr. President, for saving our country. Our country was in serious trouble." And when you hear them trying to take credit for what we, you, me, all of us together, what we've done, if we didn't come along, you would have had, instead of 4.2%, you know, it was raised yesterday from 4.1%... You would have been in negative numbers. The country was choking with regulations, choking with high taxes. You would have been in negative numbers. And that's what was happening. You would have seen some real mess. --- Our biggest obstacle and their greatest ally actually is the media. You can believe it. We've got stories that are so big and the media doesn't pick them up. We have stories that if that was about a Republican or a conservative, it'd be front page of every newspaper. And we have them and they just don't want to write them. It's a dishonest group of people, I will tell you that. --- All I can say is, our Justice Department and our FBI -- at the top of each, because inside, they have incredible people -- but our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job right and doing it right and doing it now. --- Because people are angry. People are angry. What's happening is a disgrace. And at some point -- I wanted to stay out. But at some point, if it doesn't straighten out properly -- I want them to do their job -- I will get involved, and I'll get in there, if I have to. --- The Democrats, ... they are obstructionists. Every day, they are resisting the will of the American people and trying to undermine the verdict of our democracy, delivered so strongly in 2016. --- I actually asked them, I said, did they do polling when Honest Abe Lincoln was around? You know what? Nobody's been able to give me that answer, but I'm assuming they did, OK? So we can say we're beating Honest Abe. Democrats want to open borders, which really equals allowing into our country massive amounts of crime. Republicans want strong borders, we want no crime, we want great law enforcement. And by the way, we love our law enforcement. --- A vote for Democrats in November is a vote to erase our borders and leave innocent Americans at the mercy of hardened criminals. That's what will happen. We need strong law and order. A vote for Republicans is a vote to support the brave heroes of ICE, Border Patrol, law enforcement, and all of the other groups that work with us. --- We love winners. We love winners. Winners are winners. Bobby, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger. How about Tiger, the comeback he's -- right? Tiger. Did you say the fake news tried to fake out Tiger? They didn't do too well. Tiger's sharp. No, we love winners. We love winners. Our country is becoming a winner, and our country is respected again. You see that. We've created not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars of wealth in just a short time since our election. Trillions. And we're the talk of the world. I'll tell you, every foreign leader who comes to see me, almost, they walk in and they start off, Mr. President, congratulations on the incredible success you're having with your economy. Congratulations. Everything. Almost everyone. --- And prisoners, all right, prisoners were having a tremendously tough time from the beginning, because employers didn't want to hire them. And now the greatest thing we have is an incredible economy, where employers need people. And for the first time ever, really — and we have a lot of great programs to help — for the first time ever, employers are hiring prisoners. They're getting a second and, in some cases, a third chance. And I have a friend who hired prisoners. I said, whoa, that's great. And he said, you wouldn't believe how great they are. They're better than my other people. --- Very important for this area, we are canceling President Obama's illegal anti-coal so-called clean power plan. You know, there's an example. It's such a beautiful name, clean power. Clean power, right? They want to have windmills all over the place, right? When the wind doesn't blow, what do we do? Uh, we got problems. When there's thousands of birds laying at the base of the windmill, what do we do? Isn't that amazing? The environmentalists, "We like windmills." Oh, really? What about the thousands of birds they're killing? Try going to the bottom of a windmill someday. It's not a pretty picture. But, really, when the wind doesn't blow, you got problems. If your house is staring at a windmill, not good. When you hear that noise going round and round and round, and you're living with it, and then you go crazy after a couple of years, not good. And the environmentalists say, oh, isn't it wonderful? --- Very importantly, my administration is also standing up for the free speech rights of all Americans. Free speech rights. Look at social media. It's a thing called free speech rights. You look at Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media giants. And I've made it clear that we, as a country, cannot tolerate political censorship, blacklisting, and rigged search results. And you know, it can go the other way, also. We will not let large corporations silence conservative voices. And it can, it can go the other way, too, someday. It can play little tricks with them. We're not going to let them control what we can and cannot see, read, and learn from. We can't do that. America is a free country, and we are going to stay always a free country. We're defending American values and we're also defending our great American interests all over the world. We've secured a record $700 billion for our military this year and $716 billion, another record, next year. We're rebuilding our military bigger and better and stronger than ever before. --- We stand on the shoulders of generations of American patriots who knew how to work, knew how to fight — oh, do you know how to fight, fight, fight — and you knew how to win. Just like them, we're going to keep on fighting, we're going to keep on winning, we are going to win for our nation, our children, our families, for our freedom.||I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are. Just what it is that we stand for. And as a fellow citizen — not as an ex-president — but as a fellow citizen, I’m here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it. Now, some of you may think I’m exaggerating when I say this November’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime, and I know politicians say that all the time. I have been guilty of saying it a few times, particularly when I was on the ballot. But just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire. --- Progress doesn’t just move in a straight line. There’s a reason why progress hasn’t been easy and why throughout our history every two steps forward seems to sometimes produce one step back. Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals: that all of us are created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, the ideals that say every child should have opportunity, and every man and woman in this country who’s willing to work hard should be able to find a job and support their family and pursue their small piece of the American dream. Ideals that say we have a collective responsibility to care for the sick and the infirm. And we have a responsibility to conserve the amazing bounty, the resources of this country and of this planet for future generations. Each time we’ve gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back. The status quo pushes back. Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged, who want to keep us divided, and keep us angry and keep us cynical, because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege. And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. --- And even though your generation is the most diverse in history, with a greater acceptance and celebration of our differences than ever before, those are the kinds of conditions that are ripe for exploitation by politicians who have no compunction and no shame about tapping into America's dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division. Appealing to tribe, appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those who don’t look like us, or don’t sound like us, or don’t pray like we do. That’s an old playbook. It’s as old as time. And in a healthy democracy, it doesn’t work. Our antibodies kick in, and people of goodwill from across the political spectrum call out the bigots and the fearmongers, and work to compromise and get things done and promote the better angels of our nature. But when there’s a vacuum in our democracy, when we don’t vote, we take our basic rights and freedom for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention, and stop engaging, and stop believing, and look for the newest diversion, the electronic versions of bread and circuses, then other voices fill the void. --- This Congress has championed the unwinding of campaign finance laws to give billionaires outside influence over our politics, systematically attacked voting rights to make it harder for young people, and minorities and the poor to vote. Handed out tax cuts without regard to deficits. Slashed the safety net wherever it could, cast dozens of votes to take away health insurance from ordinary Americans, embraced wild conspiracy theories like those surrounding Benghazi. Or my birth certificate. Rejected science. Rejected facts on things like climate change. Embraced a rising absolutism from a willingness to default on America’s debt by not paying our bills, to a refusal to even meet, much less consider, a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court because he happened to be nominated by a Democratic president. None of this is conservative. I don’t mean to pretend I’m channeling Abraham Lincoln now, but that’s not what he had in mind, I think, when he helped form the Republican Party. It’s not conservative. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical. --- In a healthy democracy there’s some checks and balances on this kind of behavior, this kind of inconsistency, but right now there's nothing. Republicans who know better in Congress — and they're there — they're quoted saying, ‘Yeah, we know this is kind of crazy,’ are still bending over backwards to shield this behavior from scrutiny, or accountability or consequence. They seem utterly unwilling to find the backbone to safeguard the institutions that make our democracy work. And by the way, the claim that everything will turn out OK, because there are people inside who secretly aren’t following the president’s orders, that is not a check. I’m being serious here. That’s now how our democracy is supposed to work. These people aren’t elected. They’re not accountable. They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this White House and saying don’t worry, we’re preventing the other 10 percent. That’s not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal. These are extraordinary times. --- But I’m here to tell you that even if you don’t agree with me or Democrats on policy, even if you believe in more libertarian economic theories, even if you are an evangelical and our position on certain social issues is a bridge too far. Even if you think my assessment of immigration is mistaken and that Democrats aren’t serious enough about immigration enforcement, I’m here to tell you, that you should still be concerned with our current course, and should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government. It should not be Democratic or Republican, it should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents. Or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up. I’m not making that up. That’s not hypothetical. It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories that we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people. It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say we don’t target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. We are Americans. We’re supposed to stand up to bullies — not follow them. We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad? --- You cannot sit back and wait for a savior. You can’t opt out because you don’t feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert, this is not Coachella. We don’t need a messiah. All we need are decent, honest, hardworking people who are accountable and who have America’s best interest at heart. And they’ll step up and they’ll join our government and they will make things better if they have support. One election will not fix everything that needs to be fixed. But it will be a start. --- The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat is cynicism. A cynicism led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on Election Day. To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other. Which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk. If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure we seize a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up. --- And if you don’t think elections don't matter. I hope these last two years have corrected that impression. If you don’t like what’s going on right now — and you shouldn’t — do not complain. Don’t hashtag. Don’t get anxious. Don’t retreat, don’t binge on whatever it is you’re bingeing on, don’t lose yourself in ironic detachment, don’t put your head in the sand. Don’t boo. Vote! Vote!|