Obama: Trump Isn’t A Populist, I Am!
President Barack Obama shot back against media claims that Donald Trump or the “leave” movement in the United Kingdom are populists, arguing that he is more of a populist.
“I want to say one little thing because it’s been a running thread in much of the questions and that’s this whole issue of populism,” Obama said at a summit with Canadian President Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Peña Nieto. “Maybe someone can pull up in a dictionary quickly the phrase ‘populism.’ But I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that has been popping up is populist.”
“When I ran in 2008 and the reason I ran again and the reason even after I leave this office I will continue to work in some capacity in public service is because I care about people and I want to make sure every kid in America has the same opportunities I had,” Obama added.
The president then went on to list liberal issues he has championed for years. Obama was in Canada for the North American Leaders’ Summit where the topics of climate change and trade will be at the forefront.
“I suppose that makes me a populist. Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues, or making sure that poor kids are getting a decent shot at life or have health care. In fact, have worked against equal opportunity for workers and ordinary people. They don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes,” Obama said.
“That’s not the measure of populism. That’s nativism or xenophobia or worse. Or it’s just cynicism. So I would just advise everybody about suddenly attributing to whoever turns up in a time of economic anxiety the label they are populist.”
The Merriam-Webster definition of the phrase “populism” is, “a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.” Obama went on to say, “they are people like Bernie Sanders who I think genuinely deserve the title.”
“When we bailed out the auto industry, that wasn’t popular so maybe I wasn’t populist,” the president continued to say. “Maybe that was an elitist move on my part because it didn’t poll well, last time I visited an auto plant though they were pretty happy.
“Let’s just be clear that somebody who labels ‘us vs them’ or engages in rhetoric about how we are going to be looking after ourselves and take it to the other guy, that isn’t the label of populism. Sorry, this is one of the prerogatives when you’re at the end of your term you go on these occasional rants,” Obama said before the press conference was concluded.