On 20 January the presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, comes to an end. Many Americans, as well as many people around the world, will miss him. Obama’s slogan, when he campaigned for the presidency eight years ago was ‘Yes we can.’ He believed that when people come together anything is possible. He is the living proof of this: he is the first African American to be elected President, and this was possible because millions of people, for decades, fought against racism and for civil rights and social justice. His policies as President were aimed at a fairer society. For example, he wanted to provide health care to those who didn’t have it. He also fought hard against unemployment and climate change. In foreign policy he favoured negotiations rather than aggressive action. In 2009 he won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Obama’s successor is New York billionaire Donald Trump. Trump comes from a very rich family. He will be the richest American President in history. He will also be the oldest: Trump is 70. He has been a businessman and real-estate developer. He built skyscrapers, palaces, parks, casinos, golf courses. Trump Tower is probably his most famous building: a very luxurious 200-metre building in Manhattan. In recent years Trump was also a television personality, hosting the popular programme The Apprentice where he judged the business skills of a series of contestants. Trump’s interest in politics grew over the years. He wanted to run for President already in 2000, but eventually decided not to. Few took him seriously when he decided to run again in 2015. Could a celebrity businessman with no political experience really compete against professional politicians?
Donald Trump was one of the Republican Party’s 17 candidates for President. Trump campaigned with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’, appealing to the patriotism of Americans. Trump claimed that Washington was ‘broken’, run by corrupt politicians and controlled by lobbyists. He presented himself as an outsider who could ‘shake up’ the political system and give it back to the people. Despite being a billionaire, many of his electors said about him: “he’s one of us.” His critics said that he was just talking to the ‘belly’ of the nation, appealing to the fear, anger and pride of the Republican electors, often making unrealistic promises. Over the course of a few months, though, he emerged as the most popular Republican candidate, and he won the party’s nomination.
Person of the Year
At the general election Donald Trump faced the candidate of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated for President by a major US political party. She represented continuity with Barack Obama. They both belong to the same party, and Clinton’s slogan – ‘Stronger together’ – recalled the solidarity of Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’. Clinton’s critics said that she was part of the political elite, no longer in touch with the everyday problems of Americans. Most polls, though, said that she was going to win the presidency. They were wrong: Donald Trump won instead. Waiting to see what he will do as President, Time Magazine elected him ‘Person of the Year 2016’. Time gives this title to the year’s most influential person, for better or worse. “So which is it this year,” asks Time, “better or worse?” America is divided on the answer. Will Donald Trump, a person known for his unpredictability, be a good President? Only time will tell.
1) Here’s a short biography of President Barack Obama:
2) Explore the White House, where the President lives and works:
3) Take a tour of the West Wing of the White House, where the President has his office:
4) Learn more about President-elect Donald Trump
5) Learn more about the election of Donald Trump:
1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative.
1. Barack Obama’s slogan promoted
- a solidarity.
- personal success.
2. Barack Obama fought hard to increase
- climate change.
3. Trump was
- of humble origins.
- very rich.
- very poor.
4. Trump was
- the host of The Apprentice.
- a contestant on The Apprentice.
- the creator of The Apprentice.
5. Many Americans think that Donald Trump should not be President because
- he is too rich.
- he has no political experience.
- he is a television personality.
6. Donald Trump’s slogan is
- ‘Make America Great Again’.
- ‘Stronger Together’.
- ‘He’s One Of Us’.
7. Donald Trump’s critics said:
- “He’s one of us.”
- “He speaks to the belly of the nation.”
- “Washington is run by corrupt politicians.”
8. Hillary Clinton was criticized because
- she represented continuity with Obama.
- she doesn’t know the problems of Americans.
- she doesn’t believe in solidarity.
9. The polls said that the next President would be
10. Trump was elected Time’s Person of the Year 2016 because
- he won the presidency.
- he is unpredictable.
- he was the most influential person of the year.
2) Complete the sentences with the following words.
to campaign * policy * unemployment * billionaire * to appeal * elite * lobbyist * outsider * influential * to recall
1. Youth ______ is a big problem: 20% of young people don’t have a job.
2. He travels the state to speak to the people and to tell them what he would do if they elect him: he’s ______ to become President.
3. To ______ means to bring back to mind, to remember.
4. They are wealthy and privileged; most people consider them the country’s ______.
5. Powerful companies try to have a say in politics using ______, people whose job is to influence the decisions of politicians.
6. A ______ is a person who has at least a thousand millions.
7. Nobody thought he would win the race, everybody called him an ______, but he defeated the champion.
8. That politician ______ to me: he’s offering solutions to my problems.
9. Her foreign ______ was this: international disputes must be solved through peaceful means.
10. Everybody does what he says. He’s incredibly ______.
GRAMMAR – Modal verbs (may/might for possibility)
3) Complete the sentences using the modal verbs will, may, might
1. Barack Obama ______ remain in politics, but he ______ decide to do something else.
2. Donald Trump ______ be President at the end of January. He ______ be reelected in 2020.
3. Trump ______ be a good President, but I doubt it.
4. I’m sure that many of Trump’s electors ______ vote for him again in 2020.
5. There’s a rumor that Michelle Obama, Barack’s wife, ______ run for President in 2020.
6. Barack Obama said quite clearly that he ______ not write a book about his presidency, and I believe him.
7. He ______ not know much about politics now, but I’m sure he ______ learn quickly.
8. Trump declared that he ______ make America great again.
9. ______ you vote for Trump in 2020?
10. I ______ vote for him in 2020. It depends on what he does as President.
4) According to you, what qualities should a political leader have and why?
5) Do some research on Barack Obama and Donald Trump, then compare and contrast them.