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Barack Obama says the state of US democracy keeps him awake at night

·2-min read
Barack Obama is concerned about the future of democracy. (AFP via Getty Images)
Barack Obama is concerned about the future of democracy. (AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama has commented that ensuring democracy continues to work effectively in the US is something that keeps him awake at night.

Speaking in a Juneteenth special episode of ABC’s Soul of a Nation on 18 June, Mr Obama was asked:“What keeps you up at night, and what gives you the most joy?”

He replied: “How does our democracy get refreshed and updated so that it continues to work effectively as we become a more diverse society? How can we ensure that if you work hard in this country, you can make it?”

The president’s interview with Good Morning America host Michael Strahan also saw him lament the controversial push by a number of states to limit voting rights.

“We’re now seeing state legislatures try to further suppress the vote or allow partisan politics to infect voting results and election results. That troubles me,” he said.

And despite a clear divide in US politics that was exacerbated by his successor Donald Trump – whose foray into the political arena began with an attempt to question whether Mr Obama was born in the US as part of the racist “birther movement” – Mr Obama maintained it was important to hear opposing views.

“If you are fighting for dignity and human rights and inclusion and opportunity, there’s always gonna be resistance in a big, complicated society like ours. The question is are we able to maintain a process in which we listen to other voices? If we lose, we say, ‘As long as the process was fair, then I guess we gotta go out there and persuade more people to our side’, he said.

“There’s a give and take. In our world of hot takes and Twitter ... [we ] demonise the other side as much as possible. Sometimes, we think somehow the compromise and listening and working together is wrong.”

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