David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998.
In his most recent lengthy piece on the US Presidential election, Remnick writes from a perspective of having remarkable access to outgoing President Barack Obama.
Remnick’s piece, which runs to over 10,000 words, is a remarkable and sobering read. It should be read in its entirety here:
But, given that many people will not be inclined to wade through 10,000+ words, a number of quotes that appear in the article from Barack Obama, should not be missed. Here, as Remnick reports them, are a few Obama words plucked from “Obama Reckons With A Trump Presidency”:
“Some of this is really simple and it’s the thing that Mitch McConnell figured out on Day One of my Presidency, which is people aren’t paying that close attention to how Washington works,” he said. “They know there are lobbyists, special interests, gridlock; that the powerful have more influence and access than they do. And if things aren’t working, if there’s gridlock, then the only guy that they actually know is supposed to be in charge and supposed to be helping them is the President. And so the very deliberate strategy that Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party generally employed during the course of my Presidency was effective. What they understood was that, if you embraced old-fashioned dealing, trading, horse-trading, bipartisan achievement, people feel better. And, if people feel better, then they feel better about the President’s party, and the President’s party continues. And, if it feels broken, stuck, and everybody is angry, then that hurts the President or the President’s party.
“…the question for me, over the course of my Presidency, during the course of this election, has always been, How do I strengthen the better angels of our nature? And how do we tamp down our tribal impulses?
“…your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop. . . . You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.
“…American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners. It is to find strength in our common creed, to forge unity from our great diversity, to sustain that strength and unity even when it is hard…. every shade of humanity, immigrant and native-born, Christian, Muslim, Jew, and nonbeliever alike, all forged into common service.”
The job moving forward is for us all to figure out how we can participate in practical ways in furthering the vision to “strengthen the better angels of our nature”?
What are we able to do in our little part of the world to encourage one another to live more fully “with kindness and respect and understanding” even towards those with whom we may disagree?
What is the “common creed” in which we can “find strength” and come to a place of “common service”?