How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change.
Barack Obama outlines his vision.
On June 1, 2020, Barack Obama made a statement regarding his view on how we can make a real sustained change.
He states: “So the bottom line is this, if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.”
President Obama leads up to his “bottom line” by first recognizing that the overwhelming majority of the protestors are not violent and should not be condemned. He further states that we must “not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.”
Obama’s second point is that protest serve a valid function of increasing public awareness and spotlight injustice. But he points out that “aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices—and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsible to our demands.”
President Obama makes an additional point frequently overlooked. While it is important who we elect at the national level – including the President, the Senate and our House representatives – if we are to achieve the kind of reforms and change we need to see, we must also focus our efforts on electing the local and county officials who make the decisions about how the actions of institutions they control, police, prosecutions, elections, and more are conducted.
Local reforms should be tailored to the unique needs of each community. They should be developed and made available to the public to ensure that police and other agencies are controlled by the written laws and regulations, rather than the views of the political leadership at any particular time
Obama concludes, “watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.”