Barack Obama Says Issues, Policies, Facts Don't Matter to American Voters Anymore

Former U.S. president Barack Obama spent Sunday night on prime time TV to help peddle his new book, and the the 44th president gently sidestepped questions where he could have blamed current President Donald Trump for disruptions in America. Those range from political unrests in America's streets to political division inside the Washington, D.C., loop.

Obama conducted an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS' '60 Minutes.' Pelley asked Obama about the 2020 presidential election, in which Trump won more than 73 million popular votes—way more than he won in 2016.

"It tells us that we're very divided," Obama said Sunday night. "As I said. It's not just the politicians, the voters are divided."

Obama went on to blame media and tech companies for letting a division drive a huge wedge between voters in America. He said democracy doesn't work without an "informed citizenry" or stronger elected local officials throughout the country.

The former president said the country has become so divided that it's not facts, policies and issues that matter to voters, but rather their hatred to the other candidate that drives their votes.

"It has now become a contest where issues, facts, policies—per se—don't matter as much as identity and wanting to beat the other guy. That's taken priority," Obama said.

Obama said the "current medium environment" immensely adds to that, saying that citizens need to be adequately informed.

"This democracy doesn't work if we don't have an informed citizenry. This democracy doesn't work if we don't have responsible elected officials at other levels who are willing to call the president when he's not doing something right," Obama said.

President Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama speaks in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a drive-in rally at the Florida International University on November 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Obama won the presidency in the 2008 election, beating former Arizona Senator John McCain to fill the Oval Office after George W. Bush's two terms. Obama won re-election in 2012 with a win over Mitt Romney. Obama dealt with his share of detractors from the Republican side. He even dealt with those in his party who opposed certain issues just so they could get re-elected, Obama added during the '60 Minutes' interview.

Pelley and Obama were positioned next to a painted portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president who presided over secession and the civil war. Pelley pointed at the painting asked if America's hatred and division was similar to Lincoln's.

"[Lincoln] is a good example of somebody who I think understood deeply the need to be able to see another person's point of view," Obama said.

"There's no American figure I admire any more than Abraham Lincoln. But, he did end up with a civil war on his hands. I would like to avoid that. I do think that a new president can set a new tone. That's not going to solve all the gridlock in Washington. I think we're going to have to work with the media and with the tech companies to find ways to inform the public better about the issues and to bolster the standards that ensure we can separate truth from fiction."