President Obama Gave a Powerful Message About the Election

September 18th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

President Barack Obama gave a passionate message about the presidential race: All votes truly matter in November, especially in this election.

Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus Saturday in a fiery speech that he would take it as a "personal insult" if Black Americans don't vote in the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 8.

Obama said that anyone who thinks voting doesn't matter needs to learn more about American history.

"So if I hear anybody saying their vote does not matter, that it doesn't matter who we elect — read up on your history. It matters. (Applause.) We've got to get people to vote. (Applause.)

"In fact, if you want to give Michelle and me a good sendoff — and that was a beautiful video — but don't just watch us walk off into the sunset, now. Get people registered to vote. (Applause.) If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake. All the progress we've made is at stake in this election."

Without using their names, Obama said that the American people face an important choice between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

"My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. (Applause.) Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. (Applause.) Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. (Applause.) Ending mass incarceration — that's on the ballot right now! (Applause.)

"And there is one candidate who will advance those things. And there's another candidate whose defining principle, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we've done."

He then made a specific plea to Black Americans, calling it a "personal insult" if they don't go to the polls in November.

"There's no such thing as a vote that doesn't matter. It all matters. And after we have achieved historic turnout in 2008 and 2012, especially in the African-American community, I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. (Applause.) You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote. (Applause.) And I'm going to be working as hard as I can these next seven weeks to make sure folks do. (Applause.)"

Voting isn't so easy for everyone.

Obama's comments are particularly meaningful because many states have passed voter ID laws that could prevent marginalized Americans from voting. There are 33 states that require government identification to vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These can be a barrier for poor people or elderly people who have to travel to get and pay for identification.

The Supreme Court recently refused to reinstate one such law that was struck down in North Carolina as unconstitutional.

You can watch a clip of Obama's comments on voting here:

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