America chanted past the president this month, fed up with listening and ready for its own interventions.
Whether President Obama remains an influence, or has become a bystander in conversations about “who we are” — a favorite phrase he repeated in a speech Tuesday — became a more urgent question in November, one that could shape the balance of his presidency.
“Stop deportations, not one more!” screamed a young woman seated four rows behind Obama’s Chicago lectern Tuesday night.
“No justice, no peace!” yelled Ferguson, Mo., demonstrators during a second night of angry protests following a grand jury’s decision to absolve a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager. Thousands of mostly young demonstrators took to the streets Tuesday across the country, as Monday’s lootings shifted to more peaceable assemblies, even with 45 arrests.
The administration says it wants to see if the lawlessness in Ferguson can spark a constructive national movement for community trust and racial justice under law, especially in the absence of a civil rights or religious leader who can steer it. The president has shown no inclination to try to fill that void by himself, despite his expressed desire to use government as part of the solution.