September 30

By Lil Brown

Former US president Barack Obama warned against “politics that feeds anger and resentment” on Tuesday (Sept 28) in a speech at the ground-breaking of his presidential library in Chicago, which he said would work to strengthen democratic ideas.

The 44th president said the future Obama Presidential Centre in Chicago will aim to strengthen ideals that are vulnerable in a bitter, modern US political environment and address global economic, social, technological and environmental issues that major institutions have failed to address.

“In the breach, a culture of cynicism and mistrust can grow,” the Democratic former president said. “We start seeing more division and increasingly bitter conflict – a politics that feeds anger and resentment towards those who are not like us and starts turning away from democratic principles in favour of tribalism and might makes right.”

Mr Obama did not directly name his successor, Republican Donald Trump, who has continued since leaving office to push false claims that his November election defeat was the result of widespread fraud. Multiple courts, state election officials and members of Mr Trump’s own administration rejected those claims.

Construction of the US$700 million (S$950.3 million) centre on the city’s South Side began in August despite opposition from local activists.

Donations to the Obama Foundation are paying for the project.

It will house a museum of artefacts from Mr Obama’s 2009 to 2017 presidency and be a public gathering space for cultural and educational events. Mr Obama made history as the first black president in the United States.

“We are about to break ground on the world’s premier institution for developing civic leaders across fields, across disciplines and, yes, across the political spectrum,” said Mr Obama, 60, who once worked as a community organiser in Chicago.

Mr Obama represented part of the city’s South Side in the Illinois state Senate before being elected to the US Senate and then the White House.