Barack Obama decried the Republican Party’s support of ex-President Donald Trump’s election lies on Monday, saying the GOP has been “cowed into believing” conspiracy theories that would have been unthinkable in the past.
“I believe we should be concerned when one of our main political parties embraces a way of thinking about our democracy that would have been incomprehensible and unacceptable even five or ten years ago,” the former president told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Cooper questioned Obama if he had foreseen how the GOP’s “dark spirits” on the periphery would take control of the party during his presidency.
“No. I thought that there were enough guardrails institutionally that even after Trump was elected that you would have the so-called Republican establishment who would say, ‘OK, you know, it’s a problem if the White House doesn’t seem to be concerned about Russian meddling,’ or, ‘It’s a problem if we have a president who’s saying that neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, there are good people on both sides.’ That, ‘That’s a little bit beyond the pale.’”
Even those who had initially lambasted Trump for stirring the violence in the US Capitol with his electoral lies had been “cowed into embracing” him, according to Obama.
“The reason (Republicans) returned to the fold after the insurgency is because the base believed it,” Obama remarked. “I didn’t expect there to be so few people who said, ‘I don’t mind losing my office because this is too vital.’ America is far too significant. Our democracy is far too valuable.’ That was something we didn’t notice.”