Yesterday at dawn, Barack Obama hit the nail on the head by turning his last State of the Union speech — the most solemn speech that U.S. presidents give annually before Congress — into a plea in favor of hope and facing the future without fear.
The insistent and alarming message the electorate is being subjected to by the eccentric Republican leadership, and especially by presidential candidate Donald Trump, has evoked a significant response from the president. Although politically diminished in his last year in office, the speech on Capitol Hill showed his oratory skills once again.
Before the congressmen and senators who gathered in joint session, Obama refuted these catastrophic views. In emphasizing the need to inject civility into public speech, he was completely spot on about the sickness — political populism — that contaminates American and European politics to varying degrees. It is a perfectly applicable message on both sides of the Atlantic.
New situations involve new challenges, in addition to problems that create anxiety and worry in society, but the solutions do not involve demagogic answers, breaking the rules of the game or making democracies renounce their principles. A profound and prolonged economic crisis, whose fragile recovery has not reached all social strata, the threat of jihadi terrorism, and the challenge of massive immigration fluxes are not insurmountable obstacles; they do not justify a break with the values that have guaranteed our freedoms. Apocalyptic rhetoric is certainly not the best attitude for dealing with these realities.
This is what Obama — who has just months left in the White House, and who therefore deserves credibility as someone who no longer needs to woo any electorate — reminded Americans.