EVERYDAY PEOPLE: Someone to Look Up to

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FORMER President Barack Obama starred at a drive-in rally at the Stadium District on Oct. 21 to support the drive of his vice president, Joe Biden, to win back the White House – a mission in which Pennsylvania’s votes are crucial to national success and Philadelphia’s votes are crucial to turn Pennsylvania blue. Photo by Denise Clay

Former President Barack Obama’s campaign stop for his former Vice President and his running mate on Wednesday reminded many in the audience of what the White House used to represent.

For some of the people gathered at Citizens Bank Park last Wednesday, the drive-in rally with former President Barack Obama was a chance to get outside and spend time with friends.

Even if it did take more than a little planning.

“We planned like this was the trip of the year,” said Jannie Lau of Radnor, who was there with her friends Lisa Borowski and Taryn Ferst, both of Radnor, and Vanessa Coke Cohen of Bala Cynwyd.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Borowski said, “So it was important to be safe.”

For others, it was a chance to show their support for Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, as they try to unseat current President Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence.

“Biden and Harris are topnotch people,” said Minetta Metz of Germantown. “They’re going to be for all people.”

But for others, getting Trump out of office is a moral imperative, so coming to Citizens Bank Park was necessary.

“[President] Donald Trump is so awful,” said Shannon Chase of Lower Providence. “For the last four years, my children have had no one that they could look up to. With Joe Biden, they’ll have someone to look up to.”

Hundreds of cars filled the lot for what could be called a tailgate party for votes to see Obama and to hear from local elected officials including Gov. Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-W. Phila.), State Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-W. Phila.) and Attorney Gen. Josh Shapiro.

With just days left until the Nov, 3 elections, Obama came to Philadelphia to ask the city that helped him win Pennsylvania twice when he ran to help Biden, a Pennsylvania native, reclaim the state.

Concerns over Trump’s messaging, especially the message he seems to have sent to America’s children over the last four years, were among the things that caused the usually “no drama” Obama to let the man who followed him into the Oval Office have it with both barrels in a speech interrupted by honking car horns throughout.

While he understood that Trump probably wouldn’t follow the policies he put in place, Obama thought that by this time he would understand that America needs leadership and act accordingly.

The fact that he hasn’t, and that this lack of leadership has led to 8 million infections – including of Trump and his family – and more than 230,000 deaths from the coronavirus, is telling, Obama said.

And what it should tell you is that it’s time for Trump to go back to the business world.

“This is not a reality show. This is reality,” Obama said. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.

The Philadelphia Public Record covers politics and government in its city.

Eight months into this pandemic, cases are rising again across this country. Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us. He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”

As someone who continues to inaccurately call the coronavirus the “China virus,” blames the country for the virus’s world-wide reach, and likes to accuse Biden – and by extension, Obama – of being too soft on the Chinese government, the New York Times report revealing Trump’s financial dealings in China – dealings that include a secret bank account – struck the former president as odd.

Especially since it was something that no other president, especially him, would ever have gotten away with.

“How is that possible?” Obama asked. “Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election? Fox News would have been a little concerned about that. They would have called me Beijing Barry.”

But just like in 2016, Americans in general, and Pennsylvanians in particular, have an alternative, Obama said.

And since four more years of an erratic president with a problem with prevarication could cause irreparable damage to the country, Biden and Harris are needed and needed now, Obama said.

“The good news is, now you can choose change,” he said. “Right now, you can vote for my friend Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris as the president and vice president of the United States.”

“For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room when I faced a big decision,” Obama continued. “He made me a better president. And he’s got the character and experience to make us a better country.”

Describing the duo as empathetic and principled, Obama said Biden and Harris will make things easier for Americans by having and implementing the kinds of plans such as the Build Back Better economic plan and the Lift Every Voice plan, which focuses on equity for Black Americans, that will make things better for all Americas.

And it’ll be information you can trust.

“Our democracy isn’t going to work if the people who are supposed to be running it lie every day and just make stuff up,” Obama said. “Making stuff up doesn’t make people’s lives better. You have to have a plan and put in the work.”

You might also be able to turn on your television set without wincing.

“With Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy they’ve said every day,” Obama said. “And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. You might be able to have Thanksgiving dinner without an argument. You won’t have to worry that the president is retweeting a conspiracy theory about secret cabals or that the Navy SEALS didn’t actually kill Osama Bin Laden.”

But to put Biden in office, Pennsylvanians have to vote.

“I don’t care about the polls,” Obama said. “We’ve got to out-hustle the other side. We can’t leave any doubt.”

Election Day is Nov. 3.

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