Barack Obama Is Changing
What It Means to Be a Former President
bservers long wondered what would become of Barack Obama after he left office. Young and healthy， still pondering social problems， he always seemed an unlikely candidate for the list of distant former presidents. In September 2016， he stated that then-candidate Donald Trump “appears to only care about himself，” adding that Trump “doesn't do his homework， doesn't know basic facts that you'd need to know.” Obama came out swinging again last week when he condemned President Trump for rescinding DACA， calling the move “cruel.” Obama is not the first former president to speak out， but he may well be transforming the post-presidency in ways no less profound than Trump's efforts to change the presidency.
It's typical for former presidents to disappear from public life—some died soon after leaving office， while others were so exhausted by the experience of the presidency that they withdrew from the public. But most former presidents have consciously chosen not to meddle in politics after leaving office. This retirement of former presidents has always stood as an example of a strong democracy. Unlike monarchs or dictators， American presidents surrender power. Unlike divisive partisans， departing American presidents promise to support their successors， regardless of party.