Former President Barack Obama writes in his forthcoming presidential memoir that the “jury is still out” on whether the United States can live up to the democratic ideals on which it was founded, according to an adapted excerpt published by The Atlantic on Thursday.

In the passage, Obama ruminates on the end of his presidency and notes the challenges the country has faced in recent months, including the coronavirus pandemic, a steep recession and nationwide protests against racial injustice. He argues “our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis – a crisis rooted in a fundamental contest between two opposing visions of what America is and what it should be.”


In an apparent reference to progressive voices within the Democratic Party, Obama notes “there are those who believe that it’s time to discard the myth” of American ideals because they have been “secondary to conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism” in our society. The former president questioned whether he was “too tempered” in addressing his views on society’s faults while in office.

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“I don’t know. What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America—not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind,” Obama said. “I’m convinced that the pandemic we’re currently living through is both a manifestation of and a mere interruption in the relentless march toward an interconnected world, one in which peoples and cultures can’t help but collide.”

Obama expressed optimism regarding the country’s future following his longtime ally, President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Trump in the 2020 election and said the world is watching America “to see if our experiment in democracy can work.”


“The jury’s still out,” Obama added. “I’m encouraged by the record-setting number of Americans who turned out to vote in last week’s election, and have an abiding trust in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, in their character and capacity to do what is right. But I also know that no single election will settle the matter.”

Obama has largely avoided the public eye since he left office in 2016. However, he returned to the campaign trail this fall to support Biden’s presidential bid and has been openly critical of the Trump administration.

Obama’s memoir, “A Promised Land,” is set for release this month.

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