President Obama tells Maher: ‘Anybody sitting on the sidelines right now … that’s a vote for Trump’
President Barack Obama finally agreed to HBO host Bill Maher’s frequent requests to come on his show “Real Time” for an interview. While Maher has been supportive of Obama over the years, including a $1 million donation to his campaign, Obama has avoided the program.
Earlier this year, Maher asked his loyal viewers for a special 60th birthday present: To sign a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking Obama to come on “Real Time.” The site has a policy that once a petition garners over 100,000 signatures the White house will officially respond to it. Maher’s campaign helped him reach the 100,000 in just 36 hours. Within a week the number was well over 300,000.
Maher said that he hoped that once this whole election is over he hopes that people won’t be afraid of socialism anymore.
Obama reminded him that every government has a few socialist policies. In the United States, it’s things like Medicare or the public school system. “My goal in the Affordable Care Act is if I can get more people to have insurance and how do we make sure everybody gets it, because there’s still gaps in coverage.”
Obama also agreed with Maher that the prison industrial complex should not be a for-profit enterprise. “The notion that you might incentivize people to lock more people up or keep them there longer or not provide the kind rehabilitation services so they can get out of there. I think that’s a problem.” He also admitted that there is more that needs to be done.
When it comes to the media, Obama has certainly watched the fact checking crisis throughout this election and wondered how people can use the media to ensure “the truth gets some eyeballs. And we can build a common conversation.” He said that one of the things he is most concerned about as he leaves office is the “balkanization of media. Where you’ve got 800 stations, you’ve got all these websites. People have difficulty sorting out what’s true and what’s not and if you don’t have some common baseline of facts… We can have a disagreement with how we deal with climate change but if you have a big chunk of the country who just discounts what 99 percent of what scientists say completely, it’s very hard to figure out how we move the democracy forward.”
They made some pretty hilarious jokes about Maher’s concerns with marijuana legalization. Obama also claimed that he was an ex-smoker of cigarettes.
“Ex?” Maher asked.
“Yeah,” Obama replied with a wink.
Later on in the interview, Obama explained to Maher that if someone could see the world from his seat, “the one thing for progressives to guard against, is a tendency sometimes to not fully appreciate that America is a pretty — that it’s not just a great nation in the sense of its power, but that our values and our ideals actually matter and we do a lot of good around the world.”
When it comes to Donald Trump’s candidacy, Obama said that the stakes are high. “The choice in this election should be really clear,” He explained. “And anybody who’s watching your show, and was a supporter of mine was a supporter of Bernie’s, is a progressive generally — this idea that somehow, ‘Well, both of them have problems. Nothing will change.’ Listen: All the progress we’ve made on climate change, the Paris agreement, HFC agreement, aviation agreement, the 20 million people that have health insurance that didn’t before, all the progress we’ve made trying to check the excesses in Wall Street, Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Any chance of immigration reform, including the work we did to make sure these amazing DREAMer kids are now going to college or serving in our military are not suddenly deported. Every single issue we’ve worked on is on the ballot… Sitting on the sidelines right now … that’s a vote for Trump. That would be badly damaging for our country. Damaging for our world.”
Watch the full interview below: