With yet another jab at conservative media, former President Barack Obama sounded a gloomy note for America’s survival last week as he addressed a technology conference in Las Vegas.
“Right now part of our political polarization is that if you watch Fox News and you read the New York Times, you are occupying two different realities,” he said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “And we have to be able to figure out how in this multiplicity of platforms to at least have some common baseline of facts and values that allow us to meet and solve problems.”
Obama gave an hour-long speech as part of a three-day conference hosted by Okta, a software security firm.
During his speech, the former president bemoaned America’s partisan divide while also taking a shot at the administration of President Donald Trump.
“I didn’t have scandals, which seems like it shouldn’t be something to brag about,” Obama said, according to the Daily Mail.
During his remarks, Obama said that historically, America has been a world leader in forging unity from diversity, according to Business Insider.
“We are a people that came from everywhere else, so we had to figure out how to join together and work together, not based on race, or religious faith or even, initially, language, but based on creed and a sense of principals,” he said.
But the world of 2018 is making that difficult, he insisted.
“… how do we maintain that sense of common purpose, our ‘in it together,’ as opposed to splintering and dividing? As we are seeing in some debates in social media and elsewhere, it’s harder to do today. But I think it becomes more necessary than ever, because if we don’t figure it out, not only will it be hard for our economy to survive but it is going to be hard for our democracy to survive,” he said.
Obama said technology is a piece of the problem.
“We live in a culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and the collision of worlds,” Obama said, noting that in the past, humans lived in smaller units, with most interactions confined to a small group of like-minded or geographically close individuals.
During his talk, Obama also shared his opinions that the Internal Revenue Service needs a technology upgrade and affirmed his support for electronic voting.
“Frankly part of the problem is that we underinvest in the IRS,” Obama said, according to Forbes.
“I mean, nobody likes the IRS and we know that the basic government IT systems are in place are held in place by string and bubble gum. Even if you made no actual changes to the whole tax structure, you could still make the interaction point with the IRS better – but it would require some restructuring. I think that it is in the interests in all of us that there should be a good discussion between the people in the tech community and the people in Washington. There needs to be discussion and interchange. There is perhaps a perception in DC that everything in tech is very complicated,” said Obama.
Obama also slammed the current state of voting laws in America.
“My bias is that we should move to make voting easier than harder. We are the only developed country on Earth that makes it difficult for people to vote. There’s a reason for that and it’s historical. There are some states that do a good job of things like voting by mail and areas like online registration. If we can do a good job of securing the more connected part of the voting process then that would be a good thing. If we are just restricting the vote to one weekday when a single mom can’t get time in her day to vote, then that’s not good,” said Obama.
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