Barack Obama made his first public appearance on Monday since leaving the White House back in January. Surrounded by the youth of America at the University of Chicago, Obama shared his personal experiences of public service at a town hall meeting. Leading the meeting with a statement about how he entered into public service in Chicago, the former president stated, “this community taught me that ordinary people, when working together, can do extraordinary things.”
Obama wasn’t shy to point out the vast differences between his presidency and Trump’s current struggle to gain the respect of the American people. He guided the roundtable discussion with graduates, and covered topics including the organization of politics, the attack on the media, and other pain points. However, Obama didn’t come out swinging like many expected. Instead, he maintained his composure, allowing the students the opportunity to speak their minds about issues such as our current divide, and supported the conversation. At one point Obama guided the discussion by asking the attendees, “What are the ways in which we can create pathways for [youth] to take leadership, for them to get involved? Are there ways in which we can knock down some of the barriers that are discouraging young people about a life of service?”
Critics were relieved to see Obama take a back seat during the meeting. However, Obama supporters and anti-Trump advocates felt disappointed by his first appearance since leaving the White House. Obama hasn’t thrown in the towel, however, and he has several high-profile events planned in the coming weeks, both in the US and Europe. So if you are ready to see how Obama plans to get back into the game, don’t count his first town hall as a way to measure his long term success. He’s just getting started.