Obama just publicly challenged Trump’s “small-hearted strongman politics” in powerful Mandela speech


Former President Obama inadvertently taught President Trump a lesson in successful foreign visits with his trip to Africa, where he gave a rousing and powerful speech in which he publicly challenged the basic tenets of Trumpism while celebrating the legacy of one of the world’s greatest revolutionaries, Nelson Mandela.

Condemning “strongarm politics” and the descent of the world into “a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” the former president got right to the point with his rejection of the “utter loss of shame among political leaders” and the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” that Trump is using with little abandon.

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In a series of statements, Obama took aim at the President – who he did not call out by name – and his racist supporters, scolding them as being “small-hearted” before going on to call out the hypocrisy of white nationalism and the inhumane cruelty of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies, which saw thousands of children ripped away from their mothers and scattered in foster homes around the country while their parents were deported thousands of miles away.


He ended on a positive note, invoking the struggles of Nelson Mandela and his eventual success in overthrowing a white supremacist regime to issue a message of hope for those struggling to make sense of an increasingly grim world.

The difference between the debacle of yesterday’s press conference between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and today’s speech by Obama couldn’t be starker. “Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together,” one Johannesburg professor said, “now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela.”

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Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.