Exclusive With President Obama On Why Midterms Matter | NowThis




We're in a urgent time.

We've seen basic norms and and principles that have served us well for decades increasingly violated.

Not to mention policies that have further skewed towards the wealthy and powerful.

I'm here at the campus of university Illinois in Champaign Urbana talking to young people about why this election matters.

And obviously a lot of them are reading the headlines and trying to figure out what in the heck has happened to our government.

But what I've told them is they shouldn't be discouraged.

They gotta step up and vote.

You know young people historically vote at much lower levels especially during midterm elections meaning elections where a presidential race isn't at issue.

And in 2014 which was the last midterm election, only one in five young people who were eligible to vote.

One in five, which means that you get a Congress that is not representative of the interests of the majority of the people in this country.

It means that you're not gonna get somebody who's worried about how college students are paying their bills.

You're not gonna get somebody who is concerned about climate change.

You're not gonna get somebody who wants to try to get lobbyists and huge billionaire shadow PAC contributions out of politics.

You're not gonna get somebody who is paying attention to something like criminal justice reform or the me2 movement and part of what is so important for me to be able to communicate to young people like this many who may be voting for the first time is that our government is not just the President of the United States

We don't have a monarchy here where one person issues edicts and it's suddenly everything changes.

Things happen because you have not just a president but a Congress and a state legislature and governors and a whole host of elected officials who are constantly determining whether or not our criminal justice system is treating everybody fairly or whether or not workplace discrimination laws and equal pay laws for women are being enforced and is determining whether or not we're protecting that lake or that stream from pollution.

That that power is dispersed across levels of government and a lot of times young people are only interested when it's a presidential race.

This is one of those moments where we have to make sure they understand that

It's a lot more than just the presidency and if you're concerned about what we've been seeing out of the White House over the last couple of years

And I think we're seeing some unprecedented behavior that violates norms that in the past have been observed by both Democrats and Republicans

The only check on that behavior is going to be having a Congress and other elected officials across the country who stand up for American values and American ideals things like rule of law and freedom of the press and not trying to intimidate enemies by threatening them

You know with the criminal justice system and being transparent and disclosing potential conflicts of interest.

Basic stuff that doesn't even get to policy yet but really is central to our democracy being able to work.