In an address Tuesday in honor of the late Nelson Mandela ahead of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Obama criticized populist movements toward authoritarianism around the world and ridiculed the “utter loss of shame among political leaders” who lie.
“The politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear. And that kind of politics is now on the move. It’s on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago,” he told the crowd of around 15,000 people in Johannesburg.
“I am not being alarmist, I’m simply stating the facts. Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in powers seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”
He added that politics today often rejected the concept of objective truth.
“People just make stuff up. They just make stuff up. We see it in the growth of state sponsored propaganda. We see it in internet fabrications. We see it in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment. We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more. It used to be that if you caught them lying, they’d be like, oh man — now they just keep on lying,” he said, to laughter in the crowd.