(Photos: President Obama/ Wikimedia Commons and Larry Young/YouTube)
On Election Day, President Barack Obama appeared on “The Larry Young Show” on WOLB 1010AM to make a last appeal to Baltimore voters to get out and vote for the state’s Democratic candidates.
“Grab your friends and neighbors and co-workers and go make sure they do the right thing, because a lot is at stake in terms of the progress we’ve made; we’ve got a lot more we’ve got to do,” he told the radio show host in the 10-minute interview. He later added, “’m not trying to sell people some sort of false hope…, things are not going to change overnight. But, we have made real progress, mainly because people voted in 2008 and voted for me in 2012 and I was able to get things done, like Obamacare, that are helping millions of people.”
Young, a former state senator and popular personality among the city’s Black residents, challenged the president’s request for more support.
“Mr. President one of the biggest things that disturbs me is the fact that…you’re not on the ballot, but in many, many situations, truth be told, sir, you’re on the ballot because we’ve been there for you twice; we’ve had your back and we’re going to have your back. And your coming to us this morning, you’re asking us for the third time to have your back,” Young said.
Obama pressed forward with his petition, however.
“This is the last time that I’m going to be asking folks to vote while I’m still president,” he said. “, all the things we’ve fought for, all the things we’ve been trying to get done over the last several years depend on having folks in the statehouses and in Congress that care about what I care about, which is working families and their ability to get ahead and helping young people have as much opportunity as possible.
“In a lot of ways these midterms are just as important as presidential elections,” he added. “In a democracy, the president is not just the dictator. I can’t get things done on my own; I’ve got to have partners in this process. And, Anthony Brown has been a partner; folks like Elijah Cummings have been partners. And we’ve got to make sure during these midterm elections we’re supportive, because they’ve been there whenever we’ve tried to get some important efforts done.”
The president and Young discussed the sad truth that, in many cases, voters—particularly Black voters—give their power away.
“I was joking with someone today you go into a barbershop and everybody’s got an opinion about everything—why are our schools run down, why are we putting some of these folks back to work (in office), why is it Congress doesn’t seem willing to raise the minimum wage? Well, part of the reason is because even though we are all empowered with the right to vote a lot of us just don’t bother to do it,” Obama said.
Historically, only about 35 percent of the American electorate votes during midterm elections, the president said, which means 65 percent are giving away their power. And that’s part of the reason why it is so hard to change the political status quo.
“It’s a hard thing because people get cynical,” the commander-in-chief said. “As much progress as we’ve made there’s still people out there who don’t have a job; as much progress as we’ve made, there’s still neighborhoods where there aren’t enough opportunity and too many of our young people go to jail. And so at a certain point it’s kind of easy to think…none of this makes a difference.”
But such decisions create a self-fulfilling prophecy, he added.
“I’m not trying to sell people some sort of false hope…, things are not going to change overnight, but we have made real progress, mainly because people voted in 2008 and voted for me in 2012 and I was able to get things done, like Obamacare, that are helping millions of people,” he said, later adding, “My message is very simple, which is you have a chance right now to make a real, concrete difference in the life of your community…. Be a leader and make this happen.”