Obama Makes Midterm Election Speech at the University of Illinois
Former President Barack Obama delivered a scathing speech on the state of the nation at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign on Friday, urging people to head to the polls in November for the 2018 midterm elections.
“As a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, but as a fellow citizen, I’m here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it,” said Obama. “But just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”
Obama has somewhat shied away from the national political spotlight recently, instead focusing on raising money for his foundation. His speech marks the first of what will be a few political events and fundraisers meant to energize Democrats before the midterms.
“Now, some of you may think I’m exaggerating when I say this November’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime,” Obama told the crowd. “I know politicians say that all the time. I have been guilty of saying it a few times, particularly when I was on the ballot.”
The former president took several direct jabs at current President Donald Trump, though he also said that the nation’s problems didn’t begin with him.
“It did not start with Donald Trump,” he said. “He is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years. A fear and anger that’s rooted in our past but is also borne out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
Obama also said that American democratic institutions are under threat, and that is a bipartisan issue.
“It should not be Democratic or Republican, it should not be a partisan issue, to say that we do not pressure the Attorney General or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents, or to explicitly call on the Attorney General to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like,” he added.
Obama also called out the rise of open fascism directly.
“We are supposed to stand up to discrimination, he said. “And we sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?”
He left the audience with a message for younger generations, who now have more voting power than previous ones.
“If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk,” Obama said. “If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure we seize a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up.”
Toni Preckwinkle to Announce Exploratory Committee for Mayoral Run
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is expected to announce that she’ll create an exploratory committee for a potential bid for mayor, the Chicago Tribune has learned.
Sources told the Tribune that she plans to keep her post as Cook County board president while she mulls over a potential candidacy and through a campaign, if she chooses to enter.
Preckwinkle, who has served as the board president since 2010, would be the first political heavyweight media has speculated to enter the race since Rahm Emanuel announced he wouldn’t seek a third term earlier this week. Since the announcement, there has been rampant speculation as to who might step into the already crowded field of 12 candidates. Some speculated that former governor Pat Quinn or Attorney General Lisa Madigan could step in, but both told media earlier this week they wouldn’t run for the office.
Thousands of Chicago Hotel Workers Strike
Thousands of hotel workers went on strike Friday morning to demand better benefits, including health care.
Unionized hotel workers from more than two dozen Chicago hotels, including two owned by Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker, voted 97 percent in favor of the strike in August.
— UNITE HERE Local 1 (@UniteHerelocal1) September 7, 2018
“For the past 5 years I lost my health care 3 months out of the year — every year,” Jessica Ramos told the Sun-Times outside the Hyatt Regency. “We’re full-time workers.”
“Hotels may slow down in the wintertime, but I still need my diabetes medication when I’m laid off,” said Q. Rivers, an employee at the Palmer House Hilton, in a press release. “They work us like dogs when it’s busy and then kick us to the curb in the winter. Nobody should lose their health benefits just because it’s cold out.”
Pritzker said he hoped an agreement could be reached soon.
“JB stands with the labor movement across Illinois in the fight for better wages, benefits, and working conditions,” the campaign said in a statement given to Capitol Fax. “While JB has never had a management or leadership role in Hyatt, he hopes all parties will negotiate in good faith and that a fair contract can be reached as soon as possible.”
Workers, who are represented by Local 1, had been in contract negotiations for the past few months. Their contract expired last week and those negotiations apparently broke down. A representative from the Hyatt told the Sun-Times negotiations were scheduled to continue through September.