The outgoing commander in chief speaks candidly in a new interview with the New Yorker about the impact of Donald Trump's presidential win on his legacy, sharing specifically how he talks to his daughters, 18-year-old Malia and 15-year-old Sasha, about what may come from this shocking election.
"What I say to them is that people are complicated," he shares. "Societies and cultures are really complicated. ... And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding."
"And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish," the 55-year-old president adds. "And it doesn’t stop. ... You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, 'OK, where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward?'"
Indeed, following a hard-fought campaign, Obama has moved to try and calm the nation after the man he repeatedly called unfit to serve was elected to the highest office in the land, and explaining that his optimism and values are not forced, but rather come naturally to him.
"The basic optimism that I articulate and present publicly as president is real," he says. "It’s what I teach my daughters. It is how I interact with my friends and with strangers. I genuinely do not assume the worst, because I’ve seen the best so often."
"So it is a mistake that I think people have sometimes made to think that I’m just constantly biting my tongue and there’s this sort of roiling anger underneath the calm Hawaiian exterior," he continues. "I’m not that good of an actor."
"I was born to a white mother, raised by a white mom and grandparents who loved me deeply," Obama adds. "I’ve had extraordinarily close relationships with friends that have lasted decades. I was elected twice by the majority of the American people. Every day, I interact with people of good will everywhere."