Former White House employee perfectly sums up the difference between Trump and Obama
As Barack Obama said a fond farewell to his staff and cracked one last joke before walking out of the White House for the final time, America knew that it would never quite be the same again. Although he certainly wasn't perfect, Obama was the man who had broken down barriers and won the hearts of millions of American citizens. His replacement on the other hand? In the space of just a year, rather than uniting people, Donald Trump has divided the nation.
While the differences between Trump and Obama are clear, no one recognises them more than the people who have worked for them. This was perfectly summarised by Gary Lee, a former White House employee, who used to work as an aide for Obama.
Lee went viral on Saturday when he shared a heartwarming memory of working for Obama and contrasted it with Trump's actions towards his staff that have been reported in the press. Amazingly, the Korean-American intelligence analyst received hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets in what was his very first Twitter thread.
Lee's Twitter feed only tells one bit of his story, and it's only when you hear the rest of it that you realise that he does indeed embody the American Dream. As a young man, he was always keen to enter the battlefield of politics and, after graduating from the University of Southern California with his bachelor's degree, his dream became a reality thanks to the first African American president.
According to the university's website, after hearing Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, the young man vowed that if the Illinois state senator declared his candidacy, he would work for his presidential campaign. When the then-US Senator visited USC in 2006 to speak in front of Doheny Memorial Library, Lee, who knew no one in politics, finally had his chance to introduce himself to Obama. However, things didn't go quite as planned: “I ran up to the stage, shook his hand, but no words came out of my mouth; I was awestruck,” Lee told Pamela J. Johnson in 2009. “I couldn’t say anything. He has a commanding presence.”
Nonetheless, after the Hawaii native declared his candidacy, Lee made good on his promise to himself and, as he mentioned in his Twitter thread, mailed his resume and cover letter to the Obama for America headquarters in Chicago. Two weeks later, he received a phone call that led to him moving to the windy city to work on the campaign which would see him become the 44th President of the United States.
“Ever since I started at USC, I’ve been doing the work that I love,” Lee, who named Obama a "great leader", said during an interview in 2009. “I love politics and government and working in this realm. It’s a great joy.”
His emotional Twitter thread highlights just how much America has changed under the reign of President Trump, who has a long history of talking about racialised groups in disparaging ways - from implying that all Mexicans are "drug dealers, criminals, rapists" to advocating a ban of people from certain Muslim countries - yet insists he is the "least racist person there is". Although there has been no official study on the matter, it has been speculated that Americans have never been more divided than they are under Trump.
Lee's tweets serve as a reminder that America deserves a president who is respectful and compassionate to everyone, no matter where they were from. I can only hope that the United States soon gets the leader they deserve.